What seemed an interminable Denver City Council meeting last night ended as expected: the council established new rules regulating marijuana clinics. Since the fall, when the Obama Justice Department declared it would not seek to prosecute participants in legal marijuana operations, pot pharmacies (farmacies?) have been popping up across the city, leading even some clinic owners, who fear a glut in the market and damaged reputations, to call for increased regulation.
The new regulations create zoning restrictions and put in place stricter and more expensive licensing rules. The upshot: No clinics within 1000 feet of either each other or of schools and daycare facilities; felons can’t operate clinics; and operating licenses will cost $2000 to obtain and an additional $3000 annually to renew.
There are now more than 300 pot shops operating in Denver– but there is also a bumper crop sprouting in cities and towns across the state. There is no reliable data yet available on the revenue generated by the industry or the amount of local taxes medical marijuana has paid in the past six months.
State Senator Al White proposed in November that the state take control of growing and distributing marijuana, cutting into the legal gray areas that surround that part of the business and that White believes feed the profits of drug cartels. White recently told the Colorado Independent, however, that he had tabled his plan after Attorney General John Suthers waved him off. Suthers argued that federal law prohibits states from entering the grow business.
Meanwhile, in Nederland, the move to entirely free the cannabis plant in Colorado gains momentum.