Realizing legal marijuana in Colorado could be decided by individual cities

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AURORA | Aurora lawmakers could still choose to ban the commercial sale of marijuana within city limits if a proposal to legalize marijuana statewide passes, attorneys say.

Brian Vicente, attorney and co-director of the campaign to support Amendment 64, said the initiative contains a provision that would allow any city or town — even if it’s not a home-rule city — to refuse marijuana cultivation facilities and retail stores within its city limits.

“We really wanted to protect the rights of communities to opt out if they so choose,” Vicente said.

A caregiver picks out a marijuana bud for a patient at a marijuana dispensary in Denver on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012. Colorado, Oregon and Washington could become the first to legalize marijuana this fall. All three state are asking voters to decide whether residents can smoke pot. The debate over how much tax money recreational marijuana laws could produce is playing an outsize role in the campaigns for and against legalization, and both sides concede they’re not really sure what would happen. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

If the amendment passes, the city would not, however, be able to prevent adults ages 21 and over from possessing small amounts of marijuana and privately consuming the product in their homes.

Aurora lawmakers will be paying close attention to how residents in Adams and Arapahoe counties vote for the amendment. Aurora City Councilwoman Molly Markert said if the amendment succeeds, there is a good chance the city could opt out of the commercial sale of marijuana if there is overwhelming opposition to the statewide ballot question in Aurora, which straddles those two counties.

Or, council members could ask voters in Aurora whether they want to opt-out, similar to the city-wide ballot question they posed to voters in 2010 about banning medical marijuana dispensaries.

“I think it would depend on what we hear from people,” Markert said. “If there’s unanimous consensus of some sort, and the tea leaves align, there’s probably no sense in wasting time and money on an election.”

Amendment 64 is the second attempt to legalize marijuana in six years, and would make possession of marijuana by people older than 21 legal under state law. It would also establish a system to tax and regulate the sale of marijuana.

The measure has been met with equal parts support and opposition, but Vicente predicts that it will garner overwhelming support from Aurora residents.

He said Aurora voters will see the benefit of tax revenue associated with legalizing marijuana. If Amendment 64 passes, Vicente said it could produce about $60 million annually in new tax revenue, the majority of which would go toward enhancements of public schools in the state.

But in 2010, a majority of Aurora voters opposed a city-wide ballot question to legalize medical marijuana sales within city limits. The final tallies for Arapahoe, Adams and Douglas counties show that voters in Aurora decided to prohibit dispensaries within city limits by a margin of 42,347 to 39,224. Back then, Aurora residents who were critical of medical marijuana said dispensaries could lower property values and give the city a bad rap. Those who supported the idea of allowing dispensaries within city limits said they did so because dispensaries would have created extra revenue for Aurora, a city that has closed libraries and pools because of budget cuts.

Vicente said this year is different. He’s counting on the presidential election to drive more voters to the polls to support the amendment.

“We’re seeing a larger and more diverse voter population where we have communities of color and young people that are really coming to the polls in the presidential year,” he said. “Those groups are also disproportionately affected in the war on drugs so they’re excited to change those laws.”

City officials are waiting to see what the outcome of the election is before they make a decision on how to approach marijuana within their city limits.

The city attorney’s office in Aurora has not been asked to prepare a legal analysis of the potential impacts of Amendment 64 on the city, said Michael Hyman, assistant city attorney.

But the Colorado Municipal League has come out in opposition of Amendment 64, saying it will impose restrictive and burdensome regulatory mandates on municipalities. In cities and towns that prohibit licensed marijuana facilities, people could still join together and form a co-op to exceed the six-plant limit per individual, and they could grow in residential areas, according to the CML.

 

Reach reporter Sara Castellanos at 720-449-9036 or [email protected] 

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Jason
Jason
9 years ago

Ive never smoked weed before, but I support amendment 64. The ban is costly and creates prohibition style crime. Jailing someone for weed, takes up space and resources dedicated to criminals who harm others and society.

Had it not allowed the option for individual cities to opt out, I would have voted against it. I do agree with cities having the right to choose. If your city has a ban, either work to rid the ban or move to a nearby city with no ban.

Logical
Logical
9 years ago

If Aurora goes and bans that, I will move out of the city! Simple! Is this city SERIOUS!!?!?! They banned dispensaries, yet all teachers are on a pay-freeze, they are barely hiring people in the schools, pools are closed when it’s 105 degrees outside, and the city is dead broke! Looks like you dug your own grave, Aurora! Make a BETTER DECISION this time around! A city that allows alcohol and cigarettes is afraid property values will drop b/c of marijuana dispensaries!?!? LMAO! People are SO DUMB and misinformed! Poor souls! : (

Frank25
Frank25
9 years ago

Why are both of you still here, if we are so dumb? With population of over 300,000 in Aurora (3,000 when I bought my home) I will not miss either one of you and you can proably find a fixer-upper in the east now, after Sandy. May take some elbow grease to clean though.

SafetyOverPot
SafetyOverPot
9 years ago

Seriously Logical? If you’re saying we should legalize gateway drugs just to “get a buck” then I wouldn’t want you in this city anyway. Aurora’s an amazing city for families and increasing access to marijuana would only detract (at best) from that. Move to Denver if you want dispensary. Nobody’s asking you to stay.

Citizen
Citizen
9 years ago

@c5051e87f33af511c756e9cd7b99b673:disqus GATEWAY DRUG!? BAH AHAHAH AHAHAHAAHAH AHAHAHA HAHAHAHA AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA AHAAHAHA!!

Denise
Denise
9 years ago

@7dd1801d39a4b7dec4c25bf7d05f2844:disqus You are are true bitter and miserable old b***h! What a sad soul.