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More Denver pot shops go recreational

7:19 PM, Jan 16, 2014   |    comments
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DENVER-When legal marijuana sales began on January 1 in Colorado, only a handful of stores licensed to sell the drug for recreational use.

The city of Denver has now granted 30 licenses and roughly 100 more shops are in the pipeline to get a license.

LINK: The city's department of excise and license keeps a schedule of license hearings and a map of licensed pot shops

Members of the public do have some influence in the process of deciding whether the business gets the license it wants, albeit limited.

Drive down Broadway in Denver and there's something new you may notice going up in the windows of medical pot dispensaries: notices.

They are large black and white placards, the same design as new bars and liquor stores put up when applying for licenses.

In Denver, pot shops must also post a map showing the area considered the shop's neighborhood.

Only people who live or have businesses in that area get to comment for or against the recreational license.

In Denver, the sign is going to tell you to come to a courtroom in the city and county building, where a hearing officer will hold conduct the one and only public hearing on the license.

This is the only chance for public comment.

On Thursday, the city held hearings for five shops with applications.

No one showed up to object.

"We did not receive any opposition," said Andy Betts, who manages a Denver Relief dispensary. "We took sort of a pro-active approach to this."

Betts says his shop alerted all neighboring businesses to the plan to begin recreational pot sales.

Being a good neighbor is what shops have to prove in the hearing.

For instance, responding to a complaint for the business next door.

"Our one complaint that we've ever had was for odor from them," Betts said. "It was immediately addressed. We've taken measures to deter that. We've got charcoal filters in the ceiling and odor neutralizers in the ceiling."

The hearing isn't a rubber stamp. Four applications have been rejected so far.

Those shops were too close to schools.

The focus of the hearing is the health, safety, and welfare of the neighborhood.

If you show up to complain about the ills of legal pot, that won't get you far.

What will be considered is is proof that the shop doesn't handle it well.

"Loitering violations, people lingering around the store, some odor complaints, some public consumption of marijuana complaints around the store. Those types of things," said Larry Stevenson with the department of excise and license.

Stevenson says if you have problems like those, document them. The hearing officer will want to see evidence.

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