Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Manitou maintains limit on marijuana dispensaries

Posted By on Tue, Feb 12, 2019 at 3:34 PM

click to enlarge Emerald Fields is one of two recreational dispensaries licensed to operate in Manitou Springs. - FAITH MILLER
  • Faith Miller
  • Emerald Fields is one of two recreational dispensaries licensed to operate in Manitou Springs.

UPDATE: Manitou Springs City Council voted 6-1 in favor of the resolution affirming the city's two-dispensary limit. Councilor Becky Elder was opposed.

———————————ORIGINAL POST 3:34 P.M. TUES., FEB. 13, 2019———————————

After months of negotiations between a nonprofit advocacy group and city officials over the possibility of adding more recreational marijuana dispensaries, Manitou Springs City Council will consider a resolution that would effectively cut off the discussion — and reaffirm the city’s two-store limit on pot shops.

The possibility of raising the limit to three or four dispensaries was first brought by the Southern Colorado Cannabis Council, which approached the mayor in October. Jason Warf, the Cannabis Council’s executive director, says he began the months-long discussion process after someone approached him about wanting to open a marijuana business in Manitou Springs. Currently, Manitou allows just two recreational licenses in city limits, held by Maggie's Farm and Emerald Fields.

Warf says that discussions with the mayor and City Council had looked like they could lead to a compromise between the city and the cannabis industry stakeholders he represented. Possibilities had included an equity program that could benefit women and minorities who applied for licenses.

However, at the Feb. 5 regular meeting, Councilors Susan Wolbrueck and Bob Todd expressed a desire for a special meeting to reaffirm the city's support of a two-store limit, the Pikes Peak Bulletin reported. Manitou Springs Mayor Ken Jaray scheduled the meeting for Feb. 12 — and based on what appears to be widespread opposition to raising the limit among City Councilors, Warf says he'd be surprised if the resolution doesn't pass.

Warf found the city's decision to cut off the discussion "mind-boggling."

"They’re looking at an ordinance to say that they don’t want to pass an ordinance," Warf says. "...That seems like a huge waste of time and rather redundant. And not a great use of taxpayer money."

Jaray concedes that he "was not in favor of the timing of the resolution," but says he supports keeping the two-store limit based on feedback from residents who opposed adding more dispensaries.

"I probably would not have taken up the resolution at this point," he says, "but if a majority of the Council wants to do that then I'm more than willing to have the conversation."

Jaray says community responses to posts on Facebook and NextDoor, a neighborhood social network, about the possibility of raising the limit were overwhelmingly negative: "I haven’t heard [positive feedback] from anybody other than the Cannabis Council and one woman who's wanted to have a license."

Warf argues that he's received emails and phone calls expressing support for a higher limit.

"City Council is claiming ... the proponents haven't provided that input, and the reason there is because we hadn’t gotten to that point in the timeline," Warf says. "I see some disingenuousness from the city saying that, but then sort of rushing through this process without any public input to determine from their constituents that they don't want to move forward on a compromise."

Warf says a group of cannabis business owners plan to seek a special election to have voters decide whether the city needs more dispensaries. The Cannabis Council will not be involved in the signature gathering, but he says it will likely support such a ballot initiative, depending on the exact language.

The group plans to start polling voters and collecting signatures in the near future, Warf says.

Councilor Ward pointed out in a file:///Users/nat/Downloads/Agenda_2019_2_12_Meeting(223)%20(1).pdf" target="_blank">memorandum addressed to City Council that a special election would cost taxpayers between $15,000 and $20,000.

The special meeting is scheduled for Feb. 12 at 9 p.m. in City Hall, 606 Manitou Avenue. Also on the agenda: An update on the relocation of three Pikes Peak Cog Railway cars.

Read the full resolution here:

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