Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Colorado Gets Ready for Marijuana Retail Stores on January 1st

Workers trim and cut product in Garden City in preparation for opening retail stores on January 1st.

Well, I should say some Colorado municipalities are readying for retail MJ sales on January 1st, including Denver, Aurora and a few really small places like Garden City.   These places - say what you will - have shown that although setting regulations on the retail sale of marijuana may be difficult, they owe it to Colorado voters to do so. Instead of punking out (like Colorado Springs, Douglas County and most other places) because of the innate regulatory complexities (i.e. whether a person can smoke MJ in the open on his own private property, or whether MJ smoke can blow into a neighbor's yard) they understand that the passage of Amendment 64 last year means that in some manner the will of Colorado voters must be respected.

To that end, these locales deserve credit for having numerous Council Meetings to thrash out the particulars and details. And as we know, the 'devil' is always in the details. In the case of Denver, we now know (Denver Post, Dec. 10, p. 1A, '12 Plants Per Household') there will now be a limit of twelve MJ plants allowed to be grown per household.  This was decided by the Denver City Council last Monday and they will "continue to work on developing other rules and regulations as the January 1st deadline approaches."

The Council also made its final vote on Monday the 10th, approving the smoking of pot on private property - i.e, allowing people to smoke it in their yards - even if visible to others. The final vote on this was conducted without much fanfare. Earlier, to its credit, the Council shot down a bill by Council member Debbie Ortega that would have would have banned any such outside smoking if it was done within 1,000 feet of a school.

Later in the evening, there was unanimous agreement to make the zoning rules for recreational MJ the same as for medical MJ.

By Monday, December 16,  more rules and proposals had been set by the Denver City Council including weighing whether to decriminalize possession for those between ages 18 and 21.  Currently, those in this age group caught with less than an ounce of MJ can be prosecuted and given up to a year in jail or face fines up to $999. The new proposal being pushed is from Councilman Albus Brooks who sees too much inequity in how offenses are prosecuted.

Another matter that bears down on Denver, as well as Aurora, is the paper crush for new MJ retail employees. ('Push On to Clear Crush', Denver Post, Dec. 16, p. 1A). To get a state badge to work in Colorado's MJ industry, prospective employees must get fingerprinted and clear criminal and financial background checks. Already there is an enormous backlog to process the hundreds of workers who want jobs. According to the Post "State offices have been inundated this past month".

The Post provides an insight (ibid.):

"At 8 a.m. on a recent weekday would be tenderers and trimmers filed in bleary-eyed to the Marijuana Enforcement Division at 455 Sherman St. in Denver.

They lined up to get their paperwork stamped. The rules change with the circumstances, but on this day anyone who had come back 11 times - and gotten 11 stamps - was given th4e green light for license processing."

The Post added: "Those on the short end on stamps were cast into a lottery- their fates tied to green poker chips drawn out of a Folgers' bag."

Officers insist they are processing applications as fast as they can, but lack adequate manpower.

Messy? Sometimes intractable? Frustrating?  Time-consuming? You bet! But at least give kudos to Denver for rolling up its sleeves,  digging in and getting it done! Meanwhile, Colorado Springs - which wants money for its 'City of Champions'  Olympic museum - deserves  not one red cent from the state,  having dismissed the opportunity to earn its own keep via tax revenue from MJ sales. As one recent D. Post letter writer put it: "Colorado Springs has shown itself to be merely a deadbeat city. They deserve nothing!"

Meanwhile, little one square mile Garden City - tucked between two anti-MJ towns (Evans and Greeley) is doing well, having increased its revenue to $67,000 and now is able to pave over its roads, hire its first code enforcement officer and even raise money for new investment in its 66 businesses.

Those places in Colorado that have opted out of honoring Amendment 64 - by getting on their moral high horses, or by avoiding the onerous drafting of regulations -  deserve nothing. Let them sink in debt, or ....hope Uncle Sam pours money into their military -industrial complex facilities, in the case of Colorado Springs.

The funniest aspect? The State Dept. of Revenue plans to open an office in the Springs (an MJ rejecter) to help process Denver MJ employee applications, thereby relieving pressure on Denver. How about them apples?

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