Marijuana delivery is one step closer to reality in Aurora, after the Aurora City Council decided to move forward on a proposal to legalize the practice.
The proposal, considered during a November 16 study session, would give marijuana delivery licensing priority to Aurora residents who've been negatively impacted by the War on Drugs, and would follow some of the marijuana social equity guidelines drafted earlier this year at the Colorado Legislature. But first, the proposed ordinance needs to make it through a vote during the council meeting on December 7.
If approved at that meeting, Aurora could begin allowing marijuana delivery within city limits by January, according to Aurora Marijuana Enforcement Division Manager Robin Peterson.
The legislature passed a bill legalizing marijuana delivery services in 2019, but local governments must opt in before such businesses are allowed within their municipalities.The new state law allowed delivery of medical marijuana only in 2020, and there are no medical dispensaries in Aurora — but recreational delivery is legal statewide in 2021, and there are at least 23 recreational stores in the city.
Under the proposed ordinance, only residential addresses in Aurora could receive marijuana deliveries, with customers having to show ID proving they're at least 21. There would be the same daily purchasing limits for delivery as for in-store marijuana shopping (1 ounce of flower, 8 grams of concentrate or edibles containing 800 milligrams of THC), deliveries would end at 10 p.m., and only Aurora dispensaries would be able to make deliveries. In order for a dispensary to deliver outside of Aurora, the delivery location would have to be in a town that had approved marijuana delivery.
Social equity provisions in the proposed delivery ordinance received support from the majority of councilmembers. If approved, the measure would reserve Aurora marijuana delivery licenses for qualified social equity business owners until 2024. To qualify, an applicant would have to prove that they currently live in or had resided in an economically challenged area designated by the state Office of Economic Development and International Trade, or that they've suffered direct harm related to the War on Drugs. According to the Aurora Sentinel, there are several economic opportunity areas in Aurora, including zones off East Colfax Avenue south of Denver International Airport.
The social equity measures weren't without opposition, however; councilmembers Marsha Berzins and Dave Gruber both questioned the legality of barring applicants from the pot industry. However, advocates from such social equity organizations as the Color of Cannabis and the Black Cannabis Equity Initiative argued that current marijuana regulations and licensing fees have been essentially barring members of minority communities for years. Current Aurora marijuana rules require proof of $400,000 in financial backing and two years of experience in the pot industry in order to qualify for a dispensary business license.
Since medical marijuana delivery became legal in Colorado, only three towns — Boulder, Superior and Longmont — have opted into the practice, but they've only approved medical marijuana delivery. (Denver has been conducting stakeholder meetings about possibly implementing delivery by 2021.) If the Aurora City Council approves recreational delivery next month, it could be the first local government in Colorado to do so.
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