Marijuana Study: NIMBY Rules Push Many Denver Dispensaries Into Low-Income Areas

Categories: Marijuana

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Would families like this one prefer not to live near marijuana businesses?
Earlier this year, a University of Colorado Denver study showed that medical marijuana stores had little impact on areas -- no more so than coffee shops, the researchers found. But there's apparently a lingering perception among the more affluent Not In My Backyard crowd that dispensaries don't make good neighbors, whether it's true or not.

That's among the takeaways of a new CU Denver study, which determined that land-use regulations tend to push dispensaries into low-income neighborhoods. Get details and read the document below.

See also: Medical marijuana stores impact neighborhoods in Denver no more than coffee shops, study says

"Planning for Marijuana: The Cannabis Conundrum" is the work of Jeremy Németh and Eric Ross; the former is a CU Denver prof who directs the Master of Urban Design program at the school, while the latter lectures for the Department of Planning and Design.

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Jeremy Németh.
In their intro to the piece, published in the Journal of the American Planning Association, Németh and Ross identify two central questions: "1) How do local jurisdictions regulate how and where MMDs operate, and 2) how equitably do common marijuana land use models distribute these facilities, which we define as each tract receiving its fair share of suitable land based on its total land area?"

The answers emerge from a case study of Denver that's applied to three other communities: Los Angeles, Phoenix and Ann Arbor, Michigan. The results suggest that "four popular regulatory models tend to concentrate suitable land in severely socioeconomically disadvantaged tracts...and areas with high proportions of African American, Hispanic, Asian and Native American...residents."

As such, they conclude that "most authorities control where MMDs locate as they do other locally unwanted land uses...such as sex-oriented businesses, halfway houses and liquor stores."

Not that Denver's the most restrictive of the communities studied. The following graphic measuring zoning and proximity restrictions show that the Mile High City ranked as either the first or second-most permissive of the four cities analyzed:

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Nonetheless, the area available to cannabis entrepreneurs remains limited here due to rules that include 1,000 foot distances between schools and the like. This situation is depicted graphically in the following map:

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Click to enlarge.
Number-wise, as noted by the Denver Business Journal, the study determined that around 46 percent of land in lower-income neighborhoods can be used by cannabis businesses, as opposed to approximately 29 percent in more affluent places.

The authors acknowledge that plenty of dispensaries locate in areas that can't be described as suffering from severe socioeconomic issues, in part because the majority of Denver's developable land lays outside distressed zones. But they see plenty of evidence of NIMBy-ism as it applies to marijuana operations.

A key observation: "Given that most people prefer not to live near these facilities, planners must recognize the potential equity implications of these land use policies."

Here's the complete report.

Planning for Marijuana: The Cannabis Conundrum.pdf

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.


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41 comments
Matthew Allman
Matthew Allman

The Purge is coming soon, world wide martial law 5/15/15!!

John Wayne Claybaugh
John Wayne Claybaugh

Affluenza is an incurable disease! You get it by having way to much freaking money!

Sean Valdez
Sean Valdez

WESTWORD you should be fired everyone of your journalist.

whateveryousay
whateveryousay topcommenter

But the best customers live in the high-rent districts!


Raquel Ch
Raquel Ch

There doing something right or they wouldn't be where there at

Dian Feral
Dian Feral

Because they have the money to keep them out. Money still talks. But, they will drive their fancy cars down my way to buy it.

Mark Moss
Mark Moss

Still a better name than the one your parents gave you, Sean.

Jose Montoya
Jose Montoya

Those don't count, another rich person gave them a prescription.

Jose Montoya
Jose Montoya

That is okay, when whitey wants to get his weed, he can roll into a shady ass area, and risk getting his ass mugged. Because he thought his neighborhood was too nice.

Michael Sabin
Michael Sabin

We have always gone to the "hood" to buy our weed....whats new?

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

Touring those parts of Denver to which we are relegating dispensaries should put off people from moving here; much of Denver is dysfunctional sprawl, and the center of it is an industrial wasteland resounding with infrasound from idling diesel locomotives!

Clara Madrid
Clara Madrid

Who cares? Any business will choose a location that works best for them considering all potential expenses, and especially rent. If you want more businesses moving outside of the inner city, REDUCE THE RENT. DUH

Joseph Giordano
Joseph Giordano

These businesses claim to improve the community through all their profit and social advocacy. It isn't fair to deny lower income neighborhoods these benefits. Rich folks don't need the cash and neighborhood investment. If pot shops work as they claim, their locations will gentrify.

Marc Khan
Marc Khan

But, but, you can't buy Xanax at a dispensary!!

Marcus Rose
Marcus Rose

I say bravo! Keep that shit on the wrong side of town....Let me define the wrong side of town for all of you! Anything North of I-25/Belleview and anything East of I-25....if you live outside those parameters, you live on the wrong side of town and that should be dispensary territory!

Lydia Cabrera
Lydia Cabrera

I bet they are ok with the taxes from rec going into the communities tho. Hypocrites to the left of us and elitiests to the right. Deeply seated in a puritanical Christian faith.

Sean Gronbeck
Sean Gronbeck

These people need to come back down to earth, they do live here too. Just because your family had money so you had a upper hand in life does not mean youre special. It means you were lucky, so bring that ego of yours back down and join the rest of us smelly, sweaty, stinky ape like people that drink the same water we shat in last week.

Jordan Sienko
Jordan Sienko

People in affluent neighborhoods like to put up borders from people who aren't like them. The simple concept 'out of sight out of mind'

Pheenix Wonder
Pheenix Wonder

As for talking kids in liquor stores.... I don't take mine in due to the glamorization that is put on every bottle and poster in that place, making drinking sexy, or classy, or indulgent. Just like I wouldn't take my kids in a dispensary. Even tho the marijuana industry doesn't glamorize weed in any way. That I've seen anyway.

Mark Moss
Mark Moss

So F'n What ?! That just might be a good thing, folks. Economics 101.

Pheenix Wonder
Pheenix Wonder

I think it's because they are self righteous, and most likely it isn't even their idea, just a bunch of sheep following their Shepard.

Holly Raichart
Holly Raichart

^^it IS ok to take your child into the liquor store. It is the parents responsibility to educate their children properly about drinking. There is nothing wrong with buying liquor with your children present. It's not like you're guzzling down a gallon of skol vodka in front of them......

Cynthia Wallace
Cynthia Wallace

People are ridiculous, these are probably the same people who find it acceptable to take your child into a liquor store! The hypocrisy of our society in this is amazing! The research and statistics speak for themselves, but yeah alcohol and pills are perfectly acceptable to be distributed on every corner of just about every street you turn down!!

Stephanie Mondragon
Stephanie Mondragon

They want to act like they don't smoke weed. Yet you look in their medicine cabinets and there are scores of anti-anxiety and depression medications and bottles of alcohol everywhere...but that's ok

Rob Jennings
Rob Jennings

Because they don't want the traffic in their neighborhood. Makes perfect sense to me.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Good thing the lying liars who wrote that piece of prohibitionist shit A64 explicitly and specifically included a NIMBY clause which allows ANY City or County the right to COMPLETELY BAN, or regulate into oblivion, marijuana dispensaries withing their jurisdiction.


Fucking Brilliant!!



michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

Memorable post, Jose. We're going to feature it as an upcoming Comment of the Day. Thanks.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

... is that what you do Jose, mug rich white people when they roll into your hood?

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@RobertChase ... welcome to civilization.


At least you don't live in Baker / Lincoln Park, where the earsplitting bells from the St. Joseph Catholic Church shatter what little urban tranquility there is -- EVERY FUCKING HALF HOUR, ALL DAY LONG!


If anyone else did that, they'd be in violation of the Denver City NOISE ordinance.



michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

Interesting post, Clara. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

Good points, Joseph. Thanks for weighing in.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

Thanks for the interesting post, Jordan. Much appreciated.

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

@michael.roberts


Damn Michael, I guess that makes you as big a racist bigot as Jose the "whitey" mugger.  

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