Golden to Vote on Recreational Marijuana Sales in November

Golden to Vote on Recreational Marijuana Sales in November
Courtesy of Golden Alternative Medicine
After talking it over for eight months, Golden City Council has approved two ballot questions that could legalize and then tax recreational marijuana sales within town limits.

Voters will consider these marijuana measures during Golden's municipal election in November. Approved for the ballot by the council on August 10, the proposals would allow a limited number of recreational marijuana sales locations and institute a 6 percent sales and excise tax on recreational pot sales. According to city estimates, the new tax would raise around $900,000 in tax revenue per year.

Over 61 percent of Golden voters approved Amendment 64, which legalized recreational marijuana in Colorado, in November 2012. But the Golden City Council instituted a moratorium on all recreational marijuana businesses in 2014, the same year that adult-use dispensaries opened in cities that allowed them across the state. While Golden approved medical marijuana sales, it has only one store currently in operation — and if the ballot questions pass, Golden's lone dispensary still isn't guaranteed a recreational license.

Although there is no proposed limit on stores in the ballot measures' language, any recreational dispensary in Golden would likely have to operate within certain designated areas that are 1,000 feet away from schools, parks and daycare centers.

Golden Alternative Medicine, the town's medical dispensary, is within 1,000 feet of a daycare center and doesn't qualify under a suggested buffer zone, but owner Ashley Close is hopeful that her store will be grandfathered in. "We're pretty much on a trust basis that the city will do the right thing. If people are already there before the rules change, they usually get grandfathered," she says. However, she adds, while city officials aren't vocally opposed to grandfathering in Golden Alternative Medicine, that practice isn't set in stone.

Golden Alternative Medicine will soon start campaigning in support of the measures. "In my mind, serving medical customers alone isn't feasible," Close says. "You have so many things against you: Businesses aren't renewing their medical licenses as much, so it's declining bit by bit. We know the recreational cannabis market is much larger. For the City of Golden to not allow it, that would really hurt our business."

The ballot question proposing marijuana sales was left intentionally short so that the council can draft and implement rules, including a licensing structure and potential social equity resolutions, if both measures are approved. Only dispensaries would be allowed in Golden, not cultivation, extraction or manufacturing facilities.

Golden is currently collecting feedback on potential recreational marijuana rules, as well as suggestions on how to spend the new tax revenue.
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Thomas Mitchell has written about all things cannabis for Westword since 2014, covering sports, real estate and general news along the way for publications such as the Arizona Republic, Inman and Fox Sports. He's currently the cannabis editor for westword.com.
Contact: Thomas Mitchell