Centennial

Hearing to look at retail pot ban

Public will have final opportunity to weigh in on recreational sales

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The city council will hold a public hearing on April 14 to gauge public sentiment regarding a proposal to ban recreational marijuana sales and commercial grow operations within the city limits.

But during preliminary discussion of a pot ban at a study session earlier this year, councilors appeared unanimous in their opposition to allowing marijuana businesses to gain a foothold in Centennial.

Addressing the issue recently, Centennial Mayor Cathy Noon said retail pot shops are “not consistent with the image we are trying to project for the city.”

At a Feb. 18 study session, council discussed local regulatory options regarding adult use or recreational marijuana establishments and then directed staff to draft an ordinance to allow the city to consider imposing a ban on commercial recreational marijuana establishments.

As part of the proposed ordinance, staff also incorporated an administrative municipal code clarification related to the maximum aggregate number of marijuana plants permitted in a primary residence.

The proposed ordinance, which will be discussed further at the April 14 public hearing, bans “the operation of marijuana cultivation facilities, marijuana product manufacturing facilities, marijuana testing facilities, retail marijuana stores and marijuana clubs within the city limits.”

The ordinance also states that the number of marijuana plants that can be grown for personal and/or medical use within a primary residence cannot exceed a total of 30 plants.

Councilmember Kathy Turley is unequivocal in her opposition to allowing retail marijuana businesses in Centennial.

“If money [potential tax revenues coming into city coffers] is the driver, there's no amount of money that will change my mind,” said Turley.

“I am absolutely against allowing retail marijuana to come to Centennial. We're in the process of branding our identity, creating our signature, and commercial marijuana is not part of the vision. This has nothing to do with who is smoking it or not or what people are doing in the privacy of their own home.”

In September 2013, the council imposed a temporary, year-long moratorium on recreational marijuana operations. At the conclusion of the April 14 public hearing, the council is expected to adopt a permanent ban on retail sales of recreational marijuana.

At the March 17 regular city council meeting, the proposed ordinance permanently banning retail pot was part of the consent agenda, which councilors passed on a 9-0 vote after it was read by City Clerk Brenda Madison.

There was no discussion of the marijuana issue at the March 17 meeting.

If the city council votes as expected to ban commercial pot businesses next month, City Attorney Robert Widner has said that the ban can be overturned by future councils — or by a successful public referendum.