When Colorado passed Amendment 64 in 2012, cities across the state were given until October 1st, 2013, to have their own individual rules put in place to regulate the inevitable wave of recreational retail pot shops.
Aurora, Colorado, the third largest city in the state, has no legal medical marijuana storefronts, and feeling the pressure of the impending deadline for recreational stores, enacted a moratorium of up to one year on the opening of any retail outlets either. That was in May of last year.
Since then, the spitballing City Council and the Ad Hoc A64 Committee have made some rather far-fetched proposals to get in on the lucrative legal weed market, even proposing that the city grow and sell its own! But their latest proposal may be the most ludicrous one to date.
Based on data provided by the city’s own staff, by adhering to all easement, setback, and zoning restrictions, the city of Aurora and its 340,000 citizens are eligible for up to 40 legal weed shops. Instead, the same Ad Hoc Committee suggested that only 20 licenses be awarded. But wait, it gets worse.
The latest proposal from the Committee is that besides proving you have no felony convictions over the past 10 years, no drug-related misdemeanors in the past 5 years, and no drug-related felonies ever, the new barrier to entry is the exorbitant cover fee just to get your foot in the door.
“What you hear are startup costs are in that $400,000 range,” said Jason Batchelor, Aurora’s finance director, adding, “In the financial world, one of the warning signs is looking at if someone is in financial duress. The idea is to have some type of capital threshold to make sure someone has sufficient operating funds.”
So, that’s what they want imposed, a $400,000 wallet-check for anyone wishing to open up shop in Aurora city limits. They have even proposed a “bonus point” system for applicants who can show a record of industry experience, and of course, for those with even more money.
What the city claims is a simple process to weed out the riff-raff has the common man in the Colorado cannabis community concerned about corporate takeover. Glenn Speegle, an experienced hand in the Colorado weed business, does not like what he hears coming from the Committee and the Council regarding the liquid asset requirement of nearly a half a million dollars.
“They’re trying to make it so the biggest, most established people are going to come in. Do you want the Budweisers, the Millers, the Coors, or do you want the microbreweries that are popping up all over town,” he asked in an interview with the Aurora Sentinal.
Fortunately, the new asset requirements, if passed, will only apply to prospective store owners. Growers, “manufacturers”, and testing facilities will not be subject, due to the fact that they, in theory, have no real interaction with the public. Also, the fact that the state is already way up in their business with pre-established A64-spawned regulations.
Though the city will be limited to 20 locations to begin with, future City Councils will have the power to grant more licenses – a power they feel they would lack should they grant all 40 now, and then feel the need to try to take some back later.
For the sake of comparison, the city of Aurora currently has 84 liquor stores, 35 taverns, and zero legal medical or recreational marijuana outlets. At least one of those numbers is bound to change by October 2014.