COLORADO: Among the regulations for retail marijuana that the Denver City Council is expected to consider Monday is a requirement for an automatic public hearing before any pot shop opens.
We think this is a good idea, but it’s important the city go the extra mile to make sure these hearings are conducted as promptly and fairly as possible.
Under rules that are now being proposed, existing medical marijuana shops in Denver would be able to either convert into retail pot shops or simply “co-locate” a pot shop on their property.
Either way, it means that there would be a new business at the location that residents never expected.
True, medical marijuana dispensaries were not required to undergo public hearings before they opened, but we think retail pot shops are significantly different in their operations. Medical marijuana businesses have a limited and identified clientele (their “patients”), almost like members of a club, while pot shops will be open to anyone over 21.
That is a major difference in business operations.
To us, the requirement that residents near a proposed pot shop be able to express their thoughts on the needs and desires of the community is only reasonable.
And while we know that marijuana industry advocates have concerns about the effect automatic public hearings could have on their businesses, we’d remind them that this is actually an example of pot being treated like alcohol, which the Amendment 64 campaign said it wanted.
When a liquor store opens, there is an automatic requirement of a public hearing.
And as with all such hearings, the city will have to enact rules dictating who has standing to testify and what the grounds for protest ought to be.
We would agree with industry activists that simply disliking the retail sale of marijuana shouldn’t be grounds for blocking a pot shop from opening. Colorado voters have made the sale of recreational pot legal if the local jurisdiction consents, as Denver has. And the people applying for pot shops for the first two years will be operators of existing medical marijuana shops.