Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Wake-Up Call: No moratorium on dispensaries in Denver

Think the lines at the airport are long? They're nothing compared to the lines at the Denver Treasurer's office, where would-be dispensary operators are lining up to get their sales-tax licenses before any city ordinance might put limits on dispensaries.

But the dispensaries will definitely keep coming. Although on Friday a prominent Denver businessman asked John Hickenlooper to institute a moratorium on new dispensaries, as other towns have, the mayor is not going to make that move. "We do not support a moratorium," says spokesman Eric Brown. "We do support making the date December 15."

December 15 marks a compromise between December 1, the original date that would grandfather in dispensaries that already had their sales-tax licenses, and January 1, the date that came out of the Safety committee last Wednesday.

For the record, Denver City Councilman Charlie Brown, who wrote the proposal and moved it through committee, is okay with a switch to December 15 date, too; by then, he says, anyone contemplating opening a dispensary in Denver would surely have known that the city was looking at regulations that would affect anyone getting a license. (The city started collecting sales tax on medical marijuana on December 1.) And those regulations are:

--no new dispensary can open within a thousand feet of a school or daycare.

--no new dispensary can open within a thousand feet of another dispensary.

As it stands, dispensaries that had their sales tax licenses by the cut-off date -- now likely December 15 -- will be able to avoid the buffer zone requirements, even if their addresses are within the 1,000-foot limit.

But no matter what, all dispensaries will have to apply for a dispensary license by March 1, and that license will come with a whole host of other requirements, including background checks for owners.

The first reading of the proposal will be at Denver City Council on January 4.

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun