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Colorado: Nine Of 10 Largest Cities In State May Ban 'legal' Marijuana Shops


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The wisdom of allowing an "opt-out" provision in marijuana legalization proposals could easily be called into question in Colorado, where it appears nine of the 10 largest cities in the state could be headed towards cannabis bans or moratoriums. Dozens of Colorado cities and counties have in recent weeks decided to ban marijuana stores, cultivation businesses and infused-products businesses.

Of the 10 largest cities in Colorado, only Denver looks likely to allow pot shops, reports John Ingold at The Denver Post. Only about 20 cities and counties statewide are likely to start accepting applications for recreational marijuana stores later this year, according to advocates.

The stores will be allowed to open as early as January 1, 2014.

Politicians in at least 56 Colorado cities and counties have already voted to ban marijuana businesses. A number of those are small towns in outlying areas, but the list also includes Colorado Springs, the second-largest city in the state. The city council there voted 5-4 to keep recreational marijuana shops out of the city.

"For us to move forward with this is not a responsible move from an economic development point of view," Councilman Merv Bennett said at a Colorado Springs City Council meeting this week. Merv didn't mention how "responsible" he thought it was to say no to all that tax money, nor did he mention how "responsible" it might be to ignore the will of the voters of Colorado Springs.

In addition to the outright bans, officials in at least 24 more cities and counties have imposed moratoriums that mean recreational marijuana stores won't be able to open by the first of the. Advocates hope that cities with moratoriums, including Aurora, Lakewood and Arvada, might eventually allow the stores.

Amendment 64 gave local governments in Colorado the explicit ability to ban retail marijuana stores. As noted by Brian Vicente, one of the authors of the measure, most of the places that banned medical marijuana dispensaries have also banned recreational cannabis shops.

The news of so many other cities banning marijuana shops seems to be freaking Denver Mayor Michael Hancock out a little. "With so many cities opting out, we have an even greater responsibility to ensure enforcement, regulation and education around those new laws," said Rowena Alegria, a spokeswoman for the mayor.

Pueblo County officials don't mind when surrounding areas ban marijuana stores; they are enthusiastically working to put rules in place so the businesses can open.

County Commissioner Sal Pace said politicians have a duty to follow the will of the voters. He also said Pueblo County sees the shops as a source of economic development and tax revenue -- increasingly so as surrounding municipalities ban the shops.

"Every time one of our neighbors bans it, we cheer," Pace said.



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