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Medical marijuana: Could dispensaries be allowed to share same block in Denver?

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After U.S. Attorney John Walsh sent closure threats to 23 medical marijuana dispensaries near schools (and vowed that he wasn't bluffing about the shut-down warnings), observers began to fear that MMCs would have few places to move in Denver due in part to rules that centers be at least 1,000 feet from each other. But could that edict change?

That's one of the ideas being floated by Denver City Council president Chris Nevitt, who believes such a shift would be possible in spite of state laws that mention the same 1,000 feet distance requirement.

"There's flexibility built into the state code," Nevitt says. "So, if I understand it correctly -- and I'm not a lawyer, I just play one every night -- local jurisdictions can substitute their own proximity regulations."

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Chris Nevitt.
With that in mind, Nevitt sees relaxing the dictate as a viable option, especially given his view that the requirement was of dubious value from the get-go.

"You can think of the restriction in a number of ways," he allows. "One way is to say, 'Oh, we're not going to overburden an area with MMCs. And another way to think about it is, you're creating a 2,000 feet monopoly for one center, because no one can move closer than 1,000 feet to them. And we're also saying that we're going to take these things and spread them around as much as possible. So if the market bears five or ten centers on Broadway, say, you're saying those ten centers are going to be spread out along 10,000 feet. Whereas I think it make a whole lot more sense to have them closer to each other, so they compete. That way, the crappy ones are driven out of business by the good ones, and we have an easier time regulating them

"The 1,000-feet-from-each other rule never made any sense to me. It seemed perverse. We went along with it as part of our overall regulations, but in the context of the U.S. Attorney's action, I think we need to make sure that these businesses, which are employing people, paying sales taxes, doing tenant finishes and producing revenue, don't go away, but find a place to move to. And if that regulation is in the way, we need to find a way to revisit it."

At this point, the council hasn't rushed forward with such changes because members have not been inundated by complaints from dispensaries ordered to relocate about being unable to find a new home. But if such calls come, Nevitt will be ready.

"From our perspective, Denver was really first out of the gate with local regulation of medical marijuana, and I think we've done a really good job," he maintains. "The approach we've taken is, these are legal businesses that want to contribute to our economy, that want to create jobs, that want to invest in these spaces, and we welcome that. We are not interested in driving anybody out of business. We can't control the U.S. Attorney, and if the U.S. Attorney is saying these ones that are near schools have to go, they've got to go, even though they've been grandfathered in. We don't want to see all these businesses go down the toilet. We're not okay with that.

"There is an aesthetic component to this," he concedes. "Some people don't like them, and say the neighborhood has gone to hell. But they're not in neighborhoods. They're in commercial districts, and our experience so far is that they're pretty good businesses. There's a lot less crime associated with them than there is with either bars or even banks. And no one would complain if Broadway became Denver's banking center."

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More from our Marijuana archive: "Med. marijuana: Eric Holder okay with lawful MMCs, but do threats remain?"

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17 comments
ColoradoDispensaryMMJPatient
ColoradoDispensaryMMJPatient

Absolutely. The idea of Colorado dispensaries not being allowed within 1,000 feet of a school may be somewhat understandable, and there is definite community (parental mostly) backing for such a cause.

But a Colorado dispensary can't be within 1,000 feet of  another? Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't that just plain un-American? Was this country not founded on free market, free enterprise? So just because the business is a Colorado dispensary, it is kept from such rights to compete for the right to be the best dispensary in Denver, if they so choose? This is absolutely preposterous. I hope for the sake of Colorado dispensaries everywhere, that the community stands strong, like Nevitt, and doesn't allow this atrocity to unfold.

If I can go to a liquor store, gas station, grocery store, coffee shop, etc., on one corner, with the same business standing on the opposite corner, I should be able to add dispensary to that list.

bluecollarbytes
bluecollarbytes

it's the power of positive thinking, which will do no good against 'sovereign' entity dea. There is no rational reason to believe Colorado will be treated any differently than California.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Hey Stoners -- Don't smoke pot and drive -- you're twice as likely to crash!

 People who use marijuana before driving are nearly twice as likely to cause a car crash as those not under the influence of alcohol or drugs, according to a Canadian analysis of previous studies. 

Experts at Dalhousie University in Canada reviewed nine studies of more than 49,000 people involved in accidents on public roads involving one or more motor vehicles, including cars, trucks, buses and motorcycles. 

Researchers found drivers who had used marijuana within three hours of beginning to drive had nearly double the risk of causing a collision, especially those that were fatal. 

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/...

Guest
Guest

Chris Nevitt is the MAN!

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

The truth lies somewhere in between, although discerning a middle ground between the positions of Richard A. Lopez and High Country Caregiver is something that I do not expect most people to be able to do.

Relaxing the idiotic restrictions the City Council put into first the dispensary ordinance, then into the grand zoning matrix (with its very great accomplishment, the Denver Medical Marijuana Code) is the very least that Denver can do to help dispensaries and other businesses subject to Federal threats.  The issue gives Nevitt a chance to appear progressive (as compared with the dinosaurs on the Council), but as you indicate, the industry has not begun to elicit the kind of political support (i.e. in this case, phone calls and letters to City Councilors) which could improve the Denver Medical Marijuana Code.  Anyone wanting to amend it should bear in mind that the Council just recently enacted it, and are generally well-pleased with all their enactments -- self and mutual congratulations are a constant theme in City Council.

This said, the further concentration of dispensaries along South Broadway presents a rather dismal commercial prospect.  The industry does not seem to be scrambling to relocate, and the owners of the very many dispensaries likely soon to be subject to Federal threats must be pausing to consider their options.  Despite Walsh's posturing about children, no one of any age in Denver will benefit by the wholesale closure or removal of these businesses from their existing locations, and patients will suffer.

Owners are driven by a different logic; one in Ft. Collins is apparently reassured that she will be allowed to relocate to Lakewood -- I find it hard to imagine that her patients will not be looking for other alternatives than driving to Lakewood.  The industry remains an extremely iffy affair, and patients and especially caregivers should be aware that the counterrevolution against Article XVIII, Section 14 of Colorado's Constitution has largely succeeded, inferior laws and regulations pretending to abrogate both its letter and spirit having been enacted and not struck down by Colorado's incompetent judiciary.  The industry's reason for existence is to serve the needs of patients, and on that basis alone can its support for the General Assembly's unconstitutional scheme be overlooked.  Now that the Feds have repudiated the (ir)rationale which motivated the creation of the MMED, it becomes clearer to the participants that they have just been set up, and many (at the very least, those within a 1000' of a school, park, or library) must be reconsidering.

HCC, while I agree that the State's system of regulation is an abomination, any conceivable legal change would involve some sort of regulation of sales of cannabis.  It is irrational to adopt an uncompromising posture unless you have some prospect of politcal power.  People who use cannabis in Colorado are presently ~20% of the population, and even for them, Prohibition is not a galvanizing political cause.  Despite all the harm the drug laws and other efforts at criminalizing common behaviors have wreaked upon society, we are still in the grip of the lying demagogues who promote Prohibition -- just look at the approving comments about Walsh and the DEA on the DP's online article about the coke bust!  I am far more radical on the subject of Prohibition than most voters in Colorado, so I know that it would be crazy to imagine that my views are about to prevail.

Compromise is excellent -- if cannabis-users can wrest a compromise from out of the maw of the prison-industrial complex, it means that we have power far beyond our actual numbers.  The political debate absolutely benefits by the injection of anti-prohibitionist invective (deliver it to the General Assembly!), but we must go directly to the People if we expect any improvement.  Despite its mealy-mouthed come-on about kids and driving, and its implicit endorsement of the General Assembly's marijuana distribution scheme, Initiative 30 would significantly limit liability for users of cannabis -- voters might go for it, so anyone who opposes Prohibition should support it.  I will not slacken in my opposition to the rest of the prohibitionist apparatus and my support for its victims, and you should consider that the changes which Initiative 30 would effect would make possible further gains against Prohibition later.  We are in some sense trying to accomplish a revolution in the way ordinary people think about drugs -- that cannot come like the revelation to St. Paul on the road to Damascus, but in a series of increments of reason.  Initiative 30 may not seem much like that, but consider that it is a decrement in statutory irrationality.

Hijinx
Hijinx

Sure would be easier for the dispensaries to protect themselves from the feds if they were all in one area. LOL

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

"That way, the crappy ones are driven out of business by the good ones, and we have an easier time regulating them"

You can't save the over regulated, unruly burdened medical marijuana farse.  Just wait until the CDPHE registry numbers fall another 10% or more when the Statistics are released for December on the CDPHE website.  http://www.cdphe.state.co.us/h...

No one wants your rules, regulations, dispensaries, activists, legislative bills, and City Council pot clowns anymore.  This is 2012, the year of continued cannabis revolution, there will be no compromise.  Full legalization of cannabis without regulation of marijuana is the only solution. 

Richard A. Lopez
Richard A. Lopez

Excellent Article, Michael Roberts. I am very pleased to see a Denver City Council President who understands the economic and developmental impact, and possesses the vision to see the big picture.  Well done, Council President Nevitt.  Lets keep Denver the most forward thinking city in America regarding legal marijuana businesses. If not us, who? And if not now, when? Keep up the great work.

Hack
Hack

Get a life James

Jaded
Jaded

Nice post robert. We can't build a road to legalization without bridges. By finding common ground and through collaboration we can bridge the gaps and build a road we can all live with.

BKC
BKC

 Caregiver, you should try some positive visualization...

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Strong take as usual, Caregiver. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

tgtree11
tgtree11

We have recently begun to accept new members for 2011-2012 and walk-ins are always welcome. We have lowered our pricing and now offer a 10% discount for Veterans & Students (with valid ID) and HIV & Cancer patients.  (All our TOP SHELF 1/8’s are capped at $40).  Since opening our doors in 2009 our Denver dispensary has stood by our product and offered a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. http://www.tgtree.com/

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Thanks for the kind words, Richard. Much appreciated.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Jaded still trying to sell his Bridge to Nowhere ...

Jaded
Jaded

You're water under the bridge donk.

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