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Denver City Council puts new caps on marijuana shops, grow houses

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DENVER -- The city council voted Monday to impose new caps on the number of marijuana stores and grow houses in Denver.

The council voted, 7-5, to make permanent an ordinance grandfathering existing retail shops and grow sites. The 421 marijuana businesses in the city must have been licensed before recreational pot was legalized in 2012 and sales began in January 2014.

Pending license applications will go through before the caps are set, according to the ordinance. As many as 45 locations could be added, but the ordinance requires reducing grow houses by 15.

Supporters say the caps would allow some new business owners to get into the game without increasing the number of locations. It would offer more protection to low-income neighborhoods where the smell of marijuana is an issue.

The group Smart Colorado has been fighting the proliferation of marijuana shops, saying children are at risk.

Critics say a moratorium doesn't stop existing businesses from coming up with ways to expand.