Marijuana: Smart Colorado wants to ban retail pot shops -- or does it?
The group that organized opposition to Amendment 64, which allows adults to use and possess small amounts of marijuana, was called Smart Colorado. Now, a new organization by the same name has been created to lobby legislators tackling legislation required to enact the measure, with a bill expected to be introduced next week.
The new Smart Colorado reportedly opposes retail stores for recreational pot -- but that's not what a spokeswoman for the group told us.
We first wrote about Smart Colorado Mark II in January posts about Project SAM, a national outfit co-founded by former Congressman Patrick Kennedy and launched in Denver; it touts a public-health approach to marijuana. Then, earlier this month, the Denver Post headlined a Smart Colorado article "Group Forms to Oppose Colorado Marijuana Stores."
The Post's take on Smart Colorado is seemingly confirmed by a post on its website entitled "We Can Prohibit Pot Retail." According to the item, "It's not entirely clear Colorado voters knew they were launching a marijuana retail industry when they approved Amendment 64 -- or that they even support marijuana retail at all. Though this point is often lost in local news coverage, it is a very important one: Colorado voters approved an amendment to allow or prohibit retail sales of marijuana. Smart Coloradans have made the distinction."
This graphic illustrates Smart Colorado's pot-retail article.
The piece backs up this assertion -- one vigorously rejected by members of the A64 campaign, who point out that the provisions of the measure were publicly vetted for well over a year -- with the following anecdote:
Take, for example, a meeting led earlier this month by Denver City Councilwoman Mary Beth Sussman, who represents the city's District 5, which includes the affluent neighborhoods of Lowry and Crestmoor Park. When Ms. Sussman asked the roughly 60 people in attendance -- nearly all of whom were her constituents -- whether they knew they were voting for the opening of marijuana retail stores, only about a third of her audience members raised their hands affirmatively.So...is banning pot retail stores in Colorado despite A64's passage Smart Colorado's main goal? Not according to Suvi Miller, one of the group's spokespersons.
However, earlier in the meeting, her constituents made their views very clear. They overwhelmingly do not want marijuana stores in or near their neighborhoods. They do not think the conversion from "medical marijuana dispensary" to a retail shop should be an easy one -- or even necessarily happen at all. They also want to ensure there are public hearings to determine whether a store's conversion from dispensary to retailer is allowed.
"We know there is a portion of this that's moving into retail," she says. "That's what the amendment was about, in part. The 'no' campaign was certainly concerned about the passage and retail implementation, but the way we're looking at it now is, the voters passed this amendment. But there are still concerns about what they wanted from it -- what they were looking for and what they were concerned about versus this being an absolute blanket on a big industry for marijuana."
Continue for more of our interview with Smart Colorado spokeswoman Suvi Miller.