In a city as large and as popular as Denver, you can imagine the number of cannabis-related businesses skyrocketed after 2012. While that was great initially to boost the economy and grow the industry, there comes a point where the industry appears to be taking over the city – and unfortunately this not only happened, but happened rapidly and lead to some major concerns and a proposal that would put a cap on the number of marijuana dispensaries and cultivation sites licensed within the city.
The proposed measure would limit the number of licenses allowed for cultivation sites and dispensaries within the city – however it would not limit the number of retail locations that can be under a single license. It would also create a lottery once a year to award licenses that are either revoked or surrendered, as well as allow owners to transfer their license to a new owner. It would also require that cultivation sites are not within 1,000 feet of a school (a requirement already enforced for dispensaries).
However, the most controversial part of the bill was a line which allowed businesses that have already applied for a license the chance to still obtain a license. This is a general courtesy that is often given to businesses or individuals who would be affected by a change in the laws while they are in the middle of the licensing process that is undergoing changes. The fact that the number of businesses in Denver already exceeds 400 locations before the pending licenses are approved is the reason for the hesitation on passing this measure.
“I personally would be devastated if the pending licenses were not allowed to go through,” Bradley said in testimony last week to a special committee considering new regulations. “As would many people, both in this room and out in the community. These are people who have played ball (and) have done what the city asked.”
Unfortunately, the bill ended in a 6-6 deadlock and it seems that right now the decision is just going to have to wait. Robin Kniech, who sponsored the bill, will be able to resubmit the measure next Monday, which could put the final vote weeks away, rather than only one week away. The good news is she is standing strong on her position to allow the pending applications, and when the measure resurfaces it will likely be identical to the last.
“A no vote on this bill does not get you a more stringent bill,” she told her colleagues, asking them to recognize compromises that had been incorporated into it.
In a city with as many businesses as they currently have, the additional 50 licenses seems like a lot, but the impact will likely not be as problematic as some believe it will be; especially since they will be adding in the new regulations on cultivation sites. All in all, even though it restricts future growth of the industry, this bill might not be terrible – except for the people who are worried about losing millions in start-up costs if the pending licenses aren’t allowed.