Last November, Lakewood’s voters made that city the latest of Golden’s neighbors to greenlight recreational marijuana sales within its own city limits. Now, Golden’s city council is asking its city staff to provide it with more information about how Golden might be impacted if it were to allow such sales.
That request for more information about how allowing recreational pot would affect both quality of life and city sales tax revenues was one of two main asks that came out of the city council’s latest discussion about whether, and how, the city might proceed with recreational marijuana sales in Golden.
The council also directed city staff to consider and report back with options for how the city might solicit resident input on the issue from a wider swath of the community than typically takes part in resident surveys and other online feedback mechanisms.
Recreational marijuana sales have been banned in Golden since 2014, when the city council voted not to allow such sales in the city following a lengthy evaluation process. However, the city does currently allow one dispensary to sell medical marijuana – Rocky Mountain Organic Medicine, which is located on Orchard Street near the interchange of I-70 and C-470.
The question of whether to allow recreational marijuana sales returned to the council agenda last December, when the council agreed to consider the issue again after Councilman Paul Haseman submitted an official request for it to do so. The purpose of the discussion on Feb. 23 was for the council to discuss and establish next steps for that process.
“This has been very helpful,” said Golden Economic and Development Director Steve Glueck following the discussion. “The objective things that you want we can work on very quickly.”
Glueck said staff would talk with the staff of nearby cities that currently allow recreational marijuana sales to learn about their experiences and compile a report for the council to read in considering next steps.
Although most members of the council seemed to be in agreement about the need to gather more information and input, Councilman Jim Dale said he would like to see the city move toward approval more quickly.
“Marijuana is out there and I don’t think it makes a darn bit of difference whether you buy it in Wheat Ridge, Edgewater, Lakewood or Arvada or you buy it in our dispensary in Golden,” he said. “I’m ready to do something instead of just talking about it.”
There was also some discussion of other issues that would come up if the city did decide to continue forward, including the question of whether it would make sense to ask the voters to decide whether recreational sales should be allowed in Golden.
“I think I would be in favor of putting it on the ballot just because there are so many different reasons why folks might support it or not and I think I’d rather just put it on an initiative and let them decide,” said Councilman Casey Brown.
Councilman Rob Reed also said it would make sense to go the voters, since the city would need voter approval to levy additional taxes on marijuana beyond its standard sales tax. Most communities levee additional taxes on marijuana sales.
Another topic of discussion was how many dispensaries the city might permit. Although Haseman’s proposal called for allowing recreational marijuana sales only at Rocky Mountain Organic Medicine, several councilmembers said it would likely make more sense to permit more dispensaries with Brown suggesting the city allow two dispensaries in each of the city’s two city council districts.
Several councilmembers also said they liked the idea of allowing Rocky Mountain Organic Medicine to run a pilot of recreational sales.
However, Mayor Laura Weinberg said she would not support that approach, which she said would not teach the city anything and would be unfair to the business.
“They would have to make a physical investment on their end but also in marketing and communication and all of those things to make it be known that it is now allowed at that location,” she said. “And so to put some kind of three month time frame on it does not really provide a picture of success for any business.”