The Denver Metropolis Council committee promotes supply of pots and suggests hospitality choices
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Proposals for the city to decide on marijuana delivery and hospitality were made on March 16 by a committee of the Denver City Council. The first readings are expected to take place before the end of the month.
If approved by the full council next month, the proposed bills could include marijuana delivery, permanent to-go windows in pharmacies, an expanded social pot consumption program, and a social equity licensing initiative for the marijuana industry in Add Denver as well as make numerous other changes in city rules. However, the three proposals drawn up by the Denver Department of Excise and Licensing cover all areas that are of concern to both Denver city council members and the city’s marijuana community and could call for change.
Here is a breakdown of the current proposals:
The delivery of marijuana in Denver seems to be a matter of when, not when. Delivery drivers are already out and about in Aurora, and nearby communities like Thornton and Longmont are now considering approving the service. Denver’s proposal to allow delivery within city limits follows most of the rules of the state’s marijuana enforcement department. Delivery will be interrupted when the local pharmacy closes at 10:00 p.m. Orders can only be delivered to residential addresses and are limited to 1 ounce of flower, 8 grams of concentrate, or food containing 800 milligrams of THC. Those who order marijuana must show their ID to the delivery driver.
While there is still some discussion going on about the nuances of ID verification and opening hours, the issue of delivery itself has been the least controversial issue during hearings with councilors and excise and license representatives. Most of the conversation was about who will get the business licenses to ship. As currently proposed, shipping permits – and all other marijuana business licenses except those for research institutions – will be reserved for social justice applicants until 2027.
Denver already has a cannabis hospitality program, although few have participated. There is currently only one company operating in Denver under the social pots licensing program. Others who have tried to break into the field complain about the city’s location restrictions and the lack of profitable business models that are allowed by the state. After Colorado passed law in 2019 that licensed marijuana hosting to restaurants, art and yoga studios, arcades, mobile lounges, and other businesses, that excuse no longer applied. The overhaul of the city’s hospitality program would allow more companies to apply and would allow indoor smoking and even micro-sales and mobile lounges – but the 1,000-foot buffer between a social use company and a daycare, one Drug treatment center and a city’s own park, pool or recreation center is currently still available.
Marijuana industry officials and supporters have come out against the buffer, suggesting changing it to 500 feet or removing daycare requirements altogether. Excise taxes and licenses (and Mayor Micheal Hancock in particular) are in favor of the restrictions, however, so the fight is likely to continue during the full council hearings.
The provision that all new marijuana business licenses in Denver will be reserved through 2027 to owners who qualify for a new social justice designation remains in play.
The definition of social justice, which was passed by the Colorado legislature at the end of the 2020 session, provides that a qualified social justice applicant must be a citizen who has been arrested or convicted of a drug offense in connection with or in a drug investigation have lived in a designated zone with low economic opportunities or high crime rate; Anyone with a family member who has been exposed to drug offenses would also be eligible.
Drive-through windows and curb service
In response to COVID-19 guidelines enacted by Governor Jared Polis at the start of the pandemic, take-away marijuana sales – via roadside transactions and drive-through and inspection windows – are currently legal in Denver. What began as temporary rules was permanently incorporated into the state’s marijuana code on January 1 by the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division. However, local jurisdictions must opt for the rules of the MED in order to continue pot takeaway services after the pandemic. Although this was originally prohibited in the Excise and License proposal, the Council requested that the sale of go-go sales be included in the language of the measures, which are under consideration by the entire Council.
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Thomas Mitchell has been writing about everything cannabis-related for Westword since 2014, covering sports, real estate, and general news en route to publications like the Republic of Arizona, Inman, and Fox Sports. He is currently the cannabis editor for westword.com.