Retail licenses for marijuana stalled

Hugh Johnson
Posted

Wheat Ridge City Council enacted an emergency moratorium on issuing licenses for retail marijuana establishments and marijuana clubs at its March 11 meeting.

Council will wait for the Colorado Department of Revenue to release statewide licensing regulations on the sale of marijuana. The state has until July 1st to provide regulations for the licensing of retail marijuana stores. After that, local municipalities may begin issuing their own licenses starting Oct. 1.

Wheat Ridge’s city staff believes that since it is highly unlikely that the state will fail to release a licensing system of its own, it is best if the city waits to see how things unfold.

At the March 4 study session, city attorney Gerald Dahl presented council with its options for moving forward. Council could have enacted a moratorium on the sale of marijuana, establish guidelines on where marijuana stores can be built (i.e. distance from schools, liquor stores and other marijuana stores) or it could prohibit the sale of marijuana in the city as per a provision in Amendment 64.

Dahl suggested that council enact the emergency moratorium. The moratorium freezes processes concerning retail marijuana licensing for 90 days. During that 90-day period, Dahl suggested that council make a second ordinance extending the moratorium until Nov. 1, which gives the city time to weigh its options.

Another pressing issue is the emergence of marijuana clubs, which allow people to exercise their right to smoke with others at a private establishment. Dahl is unsure of how the state and other cities will react to these clubs and believes Wheat Ridge should know more by the time the moratorium expires.  

Joseph DeMott, councilman District IV, agreed that waiting is the council’s best option.

“I think that when we wrote out our [medical] ordinance we took a good amount of time ... and wrote an incredibly smart ordinance,” DeMott said at the study session.  “I know it took a long time but it ended being really good. I think it would carry over well to the retail side.”

The emergency moratorium passed with a 5-0 vote with council members Tracy Langworthy, William Starker and Davis Reinhart absent .