Denver Freezes Weed Industry at Current Size

The "booming" marijuana industry in Denver, Colorado will remain frozen at its current size. 

On Monday, the Denver City Council approved a hotly-debated bill to ban new marijuana shops and grows, leaving a lock on the current number of stores. Applicants can apply to establish new marijuana businesses when the number of operations drops below the current cap, but the distribution of marijuana businesses will play a role in determining where they can operate.  

A crucial element of the bill—and the long conversation that preceded it—is that marijuana is not only pervasive in Denver, but over-saturated in certain neighborhoods as well. To allow for a more even spread, the new law requires that an analysis determine which neighborhoods host the most and fewest marijuana shops and grows before the new applications are reviewed.

The Denver Housing Authority issued a statement in support of the legislation, which it says protects neighborhoods with high concentrations of public housing and disproportionate marijuana operations.

"DHA is an interested party in these proceedings because so many of our public and affordable housing properties are located in communities that already would be considered neighborhoods of undue concentration of marijuana business licenses," the statement said. "We applaud City Council’s intent to establish a cap on the total number of marijuana business licenses in the City of Denver and the identification of highly impacted neighborhoods where no new licenses would be approved."

The idea is to prevent the marijuana industry from following in the footsteps of malt liquor and cigarette distributors, which are over-represented in low-income neighborhoods.

Pending applications filed before the vote will still be considered and could boost the final business tally. 

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