Decision on Denver marijuana regulation, tax expected Monday

DENVER — A vote is expected to be forthcoming from the Denver City Council Monday about whether the city will opt-in to a series of new bills regarding the regulation and taxing of recreational marijuana.

More than 200 medical marijuana dispensaries operate within Denver’s city limits, and many of them are expected to go into the retail business, with a big deciding factor being the looming decision about these regulations that were signed into law by Governor John Hickenlooper earlier this year.

City councilman Charlie Brown, the rest of the council and Mayor Michael Hancock have already had a series of discussions on how they plan to regulate marijuana. That doesn’t mean, Brown said, that there aren’t “still a lot of unanswered questions.”

If Denver decides to opt-in to the new regulations, Hancock says his administration will support a public hearing process on the proposed guidelines. According to Hancock, an effort will be made to ensure no pot shops are set up near schools or neighborhoods where they aren’t wanted.

The mayor also supports a phase-in process within the city limits that will allow existing medical marijuana dispensaries to apply for a commercial license. However, those stores would have to wait two years before they could open for business.

“The more we restrict it, the safer our community will be,” Hancock said.

Despite the governor’s signature and the wide support for Amendment 64, there are still those who believe the new laws regarding recreational marijuana are incomplete.

“There has still been no stated stipulation about overall production limits,” Gina Carbone with Smart Colorado said. “How are they really going to track this thing? That hasn’t been decided either.”

Regardless, the city council is expected to push forward in some way Monday, considering the state’s first recreational marijuana stores are eligible to open in January 2014.