Retail marijuana in Littleton is toast — at least for now.
City council voted 4-3 on July 1 in favor of an outright ban on retail sales, leaving dispensary owners determined to take the …
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City council voted 4-3 on July 1 in favor of an outright ban on retail sales, leaving dispensary owners determined to take the issue to a vote of the people.
"If you do ban it, we will have to push it to a vote," said Melissa Van Diest, owner of The Hemp Center on Main Street, during the public hearing.
Like the council's vote, every time Littleton residents have weighed in on the issue, it's been close. While 51 percent of the city's voters supported Amendment 64, the statewide ballot issue that legalized retail sales of small amounts of pot to adults, almost all of them live on the north side.
Councilmember Jerry Valdes represents that district, and stayed true to his constituents in voting against the ban.
"The people who voted for this, they gave it thought," he said. "... And revenue is going to be a big issue for Littleton in the very near future."
Councilmember Peggy Cole and Mayor Phil Cernanec joined Valdes in his position. For Cernanec, it was a reversal from last September, when he joined with his district's voters and Littleton Public Schools officials in opposition to Amendment 64.
"I have a belief that retail sales are going to be inevitable," he now says, adding that state regulations have made legal pot safer than the homegrown variety.
Bob Hoban, attorney for CannaMart, agreed. He said in May that his client was working on ballot language for a citizens' initiative
"This is something that is regulated, and regulation works," he said. "No minors are being sold retail marijuana. It just doesn't happen."
The public comment in the chamber in that night was also running neck and neck, with seven people in favor of the ban and eight arguing against.
"Making something illegal is not a way to guarantee it doesn't happen," said Pam Chadbourne, who lives near The Hemp Center and says it hasn't been a problem in the neighborhood.
Charles Ferris, on the hand, worries about safety and property values.
"We are losing good branding in this state," he said. "Marijuana is the symbol of Colorado now."
People on either side of the issue bandied about battling statistics, but ultimately it came down to four of the councilmembers feeling that it's not the right time and Littleton is not the right place for retail sales, especially when Denver is one of the few cities in the region so far to have permitted it.
"The voters approved personal use," said Councilmember Debbie Brinkman. "I do not believe they voted on retail sales in downtown Littleton or anywhere else."
However, they might now get the chance.
"I expect this will go to a referendum," said Councilmember Randy Stein, who represents downtown and voted for the ban. "I hope people will vote their instincts and vote their hearts on this topic."
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