The Littleton City Council’s decision last week to ban recreational marijuana sales left the owners of the city’s two medical dispensaries discouraged and unsure of their next step.
“We are beyond frustrated with city council’s vote …
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“We are beyond frustrated with city council’s vote ...,” said Eric Speidell, who owns The Green Solution along with his brothers, and believed councilmembers allowed personal bias to influence their vote.
“I am disappointed with the outcome ...,” said Stan Zislis, co-owner of Silver Stem Fine Cannabis.
But a majority of the council, responding to a public backlash, worried about social issues brought on by retail marijuana shops.
“I don’t want to be sitting here in a couple of years making a decision about whether we’re going to have smoking clubs,” said Councilmember Debbie Brinkman, who has been the most vocal councilmember opposing recreational sales.
Following a public hearing with comment from dozens of residents, the council voted 5-1 on May 17 to continue the ban it enacted in 2014 that prohibits recreational marijuana shops.
Earlier this year, Speidell and Zislis began a push to overturn the ordinance, hiring Cory Nadler of Black Diamond Outreach to help their cause. Silver Stem Fine Cannabis is on Littleton Boulevard and The Green Solution is on Santa Fe Drive. Both are local chains, with several recreational shops around the Denver area.
The proposal gained the support of other businesses in town and a poll of city residents showed the two sides nearly equal.
However, supporters of recreational marijuana — excluding people working in the cannabis industry — largely stayed home on the night of the meeting, while opponents showed up in force. Most of the people who called or sent emails to councilmembers also opposed the change and urged the council to not be swayed by the prospect of additional tax revenues, which were a large part of supporters’ arguments.
Only Councilmember Doug Clark voted in favor of the ordinance after the public hearing. Councilmember Bill Hopping was absent.
Although he does not personally support marijuana use, Clark said Littleton voters’ approval in 2012 of Amendment 64 — which allowed recreational sales of marijuana statewide — shows that people favor recreational use. Therefore, he said, that indicates they would support those types of sales in the city.
“I think the normal conclusion would be if the citizens voted in favor of recreational marijuana use, that they meant to be allowed to be able to purchase that,” he said.
The other councilmembers weren’t convinced.
“I am not going to support turning the South Metro area into a two-shop retail marijuana mecca,” Brinkman said. “All around us, the communities have said ‘no.’ ”
Mayor Bruce Beckman, a retired police officer, said he voted against the proposal in part because of the federal prohibition on marijuana that remains in place.
“At this point,” he said, “I’m not comfortable voting yes with that kind of situation at the federal level.”
Advocates of recreational sales could still mount an effort to get voters to approve their cause.
But, Nadler said, “at this point we’re not going to speculate on what the next steps are.”
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