City considers extending hours for marijuana sales
A request from at least one Glenwood Springs retail marijuana shop to extend the allowed business hours for recreational pot sales in the city beyond 7 p.m. has prompted City Council to consider doing just that.
Currently, business hours for both recreational and medical marijuana sales are limited to between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m., seven days a week.
While the hours for medical sales are governed by state statute, municipalities have the flexibility to establish their own hours of operation until as late as midnight for recreational sales, which became legal in Colorado last year.
Initially, when the city wrote its regulations to allow establishments to sell both medical and retail recreational marijuana, the hours were kept the same.
According to Andrew McGregor, community development director for the city, that was done primarily for the ease of policing facilities that sold both medical and retail marijuana. It was also meant to help prevent underage customers who can obtain medical marijuana with a valid patient card from migrating into an adjoining retail establishment, where sales are strictly limited to those age 21 and older, he said.
While that made sense when the retail market was “untested,” it’s now time to revisit the rules for hours of operation, Jeff Kennedy, general manager at the Green Dragon Colorado recreational sales shop on Devereux Road, wrote in a March 12 letter to city officials.
“As retail sales have evolved and prices have dropped and somewhat stabilized, shopping for cannabis has become a matter of convenience, people want to shop after work,” Kennedy said. “Over the last year, our busiest hours are from 3-7 p.m. Visitors arriving in the area are often disappointed to find us closed once they have checked into their lodging.”
Kennedy proposed extending the hours until 10 p.m., which is the same as the store’s Aspen location. Since opening in Glenwood Springs last summer, Kennedy said they have had “almost no incidents,” other than police responding to false alarms related to the security system, and one incident in which an individual had to be removed by police after being asked to leave.
“Extended hours will allow us to create more jobs for local residents,” he also said, adding the combined Glenwood and Aspen operation currently employs 48 people, most of whom are in Glenwood Springs where the Green Dragon and Green Essentials (medical) cultivating facility is located.
“We estimate adding four to five more (employees) if the extended hours were approved,” Kennedy said.
Besides Green Dragon, Glenwood Springs has two businesses that offer both medical and recreational marijuana sales. If the hours are changed, it would also apply to The Green Joint at Grand Avenue and 11th Street, and Greenwerkz on South Glen/Highway 82.
City Council agreed at its March 19 meeting to have the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission review the section of the codes related to hours of operation for retail marijuana businesses. That process will include public hearings before both the P&Z and City Council.
“Ten o’clock seems reasonable to me,” Councilman Todd Leahy said in agreeing with a unanimous council to formally consider the request. “It’s a legal product and a legal business, and I’m not into telling businesses when they should conduct their business.”
Councilman Stephen Bershenyi said he does have concerns about the co-location of medical and recreational sales and ensuring that the two operations remain separate.
But, “I think we can find something reasonable, and we need to take a look at it,” he said.
“There are some salient arguments for doing this … and I would like to see us have the conversation and get feedback from the police,” Mayor Leo McKinney said. “There will be plenty of opportunity for public comment when this comes back.”
The matter will likely come before P&Z in late April or May, and should hit City Council’s table before summer.
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Glenwood Springs’ officials continue to ask residents and visitors to use caution particularly around river access points within the city’s numerous parks.