Marijuana Shop Denied Aurora License Because of Bad Math, But City Won't Fix It?

We've been reporting about one of marijuana attorney Robert Hoban's more unusual cases, involving the Town of Granby's efforts to block a pot shop by annexing the unincorporated land its owner had leased. But he's also assisting another ganjapreneur in an equally strange face-off with a local community. In this case, his client is suing Aurora, which denied him a license due to, among other things, a math error, but claims it has no way to make things right. Photos, a video, the complete complaint and more below.

See also: Update: Marijuana-Hating Town Officials to Vote on Plan to Block Pot Shop

Hoban represents Stan Zislis of Visaj Unity, which does business as Metro Cannabis. The company has been looking to expand into Aurora, which has okayed recreational marijuana sales -- and instituted a complex process to approve a limited number of shops in various city wards.

"They created a point-scoring scheme modeled on Massachusetts and Connecticut and Washington state," Hoban points out, "and my client applied for two licenses in two wards." However, each ward is restricted to four shops, and Metro Cannabis finished fifth in each ward.

Afterward, Hoban continues, Zislis looked at the scoring system and was confused why he didn't receive the proper number of points for an air filtration system that was part of the plan -- because if he had, "they would have had the top score in both wards. So we filed an administrative appeal and requested a bunch of documents, and we discovered that he was actually tied for number four in one of the wards."

This finish wasn't reflected because the score of the other shop was rounded up -- but it shouldn't have been, as an Aurora official later confirmed. "They admitted to a math error, and they also admitted that they should have given more points for the air filtration system," Hoban notes. "But they say there's nothing they can do about it" because the maximum number of licenses have already been handed out to others.

That's not the only weird aspect about the case. Hoban reveals that three reviewers supposedly analyzed Zislis's application, but the paperwork from only two of them was provided. Zislis suspects some nefarious shenanigans in this regard, as reflected in his comments to Fox31 in a piece on view below -- and while Hoban isn't willing to go quite that far ("I'm not a conspiracy theorist," he stresses), he feels it's more evidence that his client is getting the short end of the stick.

As such, Hoban has filed suit claiming that Aurora "didn't give my client due process -- and we feel they have to give us administrative-appeal relief. We're not asking that they take a license away from somebody else. But it's still terribly disappointing that the city won't correct an obvious error on the math calculation.

"What's important for me from a straight-forward legal standpoint is what's fair and what's not," he adds. "And it's not fair if you admit you made mistakes but refuse to correct the problem. That's not what people or governments are supposed to do."

Here's the Fox31 report, followed by the lawsuit.

Metro Cannabis v. Aurora

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

Latest Stories