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City Council may extend medical marijuana dispensaries’ operating hours 

click to enlarge With extra hours to get bud, will patients procrastinate? - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • With extra hours to get bud, will patients procrastinate?
Closing time at your favorite dispensary in town probably consists of a common industry routine: Complete the bud audit, get the drawers in order and wipe the glass clean of eager fingerprints. That and always expect some last-minute patients. In Colorado Springs, medical marijuana centers are allowed to keep their doors open until 7 p.m., an earlier closing time than in most other municipalities in the state. But that could soon change, as City Council considers whether to extend hours to 9 p.m. — in line with Manitou Springs’ laws but still earlier than in Denver, Boulder and El Paso County.

The proposal came out of the city’s Medical Marijuana Working Group, where member Renze Waddington, owner of two dispensaries called Epic Remedy, suggested it as a way to ensure patients, no matter their working hours, have access to medical marijuana.

City Clerk Sarah Johnson presented the ordinance to City Council at their work session on Monday, Sept. 11. The amendment would grant medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado Springs the ability to remain open until 9 p.m. — a time chosen to reflect the typical operating hours of local pharmacies and dispensaries in other parts of the state. Johnson referenced a survey showing that 10 out of 16 major cities and counties in Colorado permit dispensaries to stay open until 10 p.m. or later.

Another member of the working group, City Councilor David Geislinger, said he supports the change.

“There was some indication that a lot of patients were having difficulty getting to the dispensaries because they overlap their own work hours,” he said. “So this is a way to make things simpler for the patient. The second thing to me that was compelling was the representative from the Colorado Springs Police Department who said there is less difficulty policing the dispensaries when they’re open.”

Dispensaries are more frequent targets for thieves, since without access to traditional banking services, cannabis businesses tend to have large quantities of cash on hand. It’s required by law that dispensaries have their own security systems.

Among dispensary owners and workers, the reaction to the proposal runs the gamut.

Ryan Minette, owner of JP Labs, which has three local locations, says he’d consider extending their hours if it becomes possible. “I’m not sure if it would make too big of a difference [because] it seems people have been trained, in a sense — [patients] are accustomed to the current hours,” he told the Independent. “I also see it as a way for patients who come in late to come in later due to the convenience more than necessity and from a business perspective it may not be worth the labor cost.”

JP Labs’ south location is near Chelton Road and South Academy Boulevard, close to a stretch of largely vacant storefronts.

“The employees generally park a distance from the shop to allow parking for patients and it worries me a little to think of them closing shop that late when several times a week employees close by themselves due to slower business,” Minette commented, adding that it’s a different story for the Westside location, which is in the heart of Old Colorado City. There, he says, “The extra two hours could attract more people visiting bars and restaurants, which we need over there. We also open that location at 11 a.m. as opposed to our other locations which open at 9 a.m. So the patients, especially members, could benefit from the later day.”

A patient at JP Labs, Sean Kidd, says longer hours would be “ideal” since he lives all the way in Black Forest. “There’s really no options east of me so it’s always a trek no matter when I go,” he says. “I guess I’ve always made it work so I’d still be a member with JP if it didn’t change, but I would appreciate it so I’m not racing over if it is a busy day for me.”

The first reading of the ordinance will be held Sept. 26. If it passes, it will appear for a second reading on Oct. 10.

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