wheat ridge

Council puts hold on retail pot

Hugh Johnson

Wheat Ridge City Council enacted a 90-day emergency moratorium on the issuance of licenses for retail marijuana manufacturers. The moratorium will allow city staff time to consider spatial guidelines for manufacturers, not previously included in city restrictions.

The move comes as the marijuana industry continues to grow and more questions arise about how to regulate the products. City Attorney Gerald Dahl proposed the moratorium restricting the issuance of pending and future licenses to marijuana testing facilities and manufacturers.

Currently, retail and medical marijuana centers must be three-fourths of a mile away from one another and 1,000 feet away from schools, universities, child-care facilities and alcohol and drug treatment centers. However, those restrictions do not apply to testing and manufacturing facilities.

Many business owners, most of whom resided outside the city, complained about the moratorium’s implementation. While some of those in attendance said the hiatus would stifle businesses in Wheat Ridge, many mentioned that these businesses aren’t open to the public, and they are not designed to attract attention.

Mark Barnes, a Golden resident, said that testing facilities are heavily regulated laboratories that are evaluating the safety of marijuana infused products such as oils and edibles.

“A college kid can’t come in off the street and say ‘I want to open a testing facility,’ you have to have a PH.D in one of the natural sciences and you have to have years of experience actually running a lab,” he said.

Councilman Jerry DiTullio made a motion to amend the moratorium to exclude current applications and testing facilities. Council passed both amendments.

DiTullio’s fellow District One Councilman William Starker voted in favor of the moratorium but declared his wish for a quick process.

“I’m really voting for this with a directive to staff to bring this back to us as soon as possible,” Starker said. “I feel that we’ve somewhat let our citizens down in the business community in that we’ve allowed marijuana businesses in our community, and we maybe didn’t have quite the totality of the ordinance in place.”

Council passed the moratorium on a six-to-one vote with Councilman Tim Fitzgerald dissenting and Councilwoman Kristi Davis absent.

One issue that lead to the moratorium’s proposal and passing is the introduction of marijuana infused products to the state. News headlines about minors selling marijuana in northern Colorado and a recent accidental death linked to marijuana consumables have some people concerned about the effects of marijuana products on the community.

Jennifer Shepherd, a parent and health care professional, is grateful that Wheat Ridge is taking time to rethink how these products are implemented.

“I hope that time gives them the opportunity to continue to discuss the impact of these MIPs (marijuana infused products) on our community,” Shepherd said.