Pot appeals challenge notion of market saturation
There is no “oversaturation” of retail marijuana stores or related businesses in Glenwood Springs, according to one of two supporters of new pot shops in the downtown area who filed appeals this week of their recently denied licenses.
In fact, in contrast to the five marijuana dispensaries in Glenwood, three of which offer retail sales to those 21 and older, the city has about a dozen stores licensed for beer, wine and liquor sales, or 3.2 percent beer sales, one of the appeals points out.
Proponents of both a second Green Dragon retail store and new marijuana edibles kitchen at 919 Grand Ave., and what would be the new Recreational Releaf Dispensary Bar retail outlet at 404 10th St., also say the main reason given by the city’s local licensing authority hearing officer for their license being denied doesn’t hold water.
In their appeal to Glenwood City Council, representatives of the Releaf operation said hearing officer Angela Roff “inaccurately assessed the desires of the adult inhabitants of Glenwood Springs,” referencing language included in the city’s marijuana license regulations.
The Green Dragon and Releaf are both appealing Roff’s written decisions issued June 12 denying their license applications. Her decisions came in follow-up to a May 13 license review hearing for the two applications, which was attended by roughly two dozen opponents of the new operations.
Arguments seeking reconsideration of the licenses, as well as any public comments against or in support of the licenses, are to be heard by City Council at its regular July 2 meeting.
Releaf’s appeal includes the online petition signatures of 500 people claiming Glenwood Springs addresses who offered their support for the business license. All were gathered within a week of the appeal being filed late Monday.
Likewise, an appeal filed by marijuana rights attorney Lauren Maytin on behalf Green Dragon owners Ron and Brian Radtke contained the handwritten signatures of 121 people, also claiming Glenwood addresses, in support of their proposed operation.
“Just because no members of the public showed up to testify on behalf of the applicant (at the May licensing hearing), does not mean that the few people who spoke adequately represent the desires of the young adults or senior inhabitants of Glenwood Springs,” the Green Dragon appeal states.
“It is clear that people are not comfortable exposing themselves to their opponents and are protective of their rights,” Maytin wrote in the appeal. “There are hundreds of retail clients who are not ready to face the stigma that could be placed on them by their community because of their recreational use of marijuana.”
Countering claims made at the May 13 hearing that the local retail marijuana market is already saturated, the Green Dragon appeal notes that only one retail operation currently exists in the downtown core, which it defines as extending from Seventh Street to 11th streets. That’s the Green Joint, whose owner, Dan Sullivan, has testified against the new marijuana licenses, saying the community is already served.
But the comments of Sullivan should not be taken into account, according to the Green Dragon appeal, because he “is a direct business competitor of the applicant” whose motives are “highly prejudicial.”
The Green Dragon’s proposed Grand Edibles kitchen would also be the first of its kind, not only in Glenwood, but anywhere on Colorado’s Western Slope. And, the proposed location next to the Glenwood Vaudeville Revue would be the only retail store on the west side of Grand Avenue.
Colorado voters approved the personal possession and retail sales of marijuana for recreational purposes for those 21 and older in 2012 with the passage of Amendment 64.
“A strong majority of Glenwood Springs resident (about 60 percent) voted in favor of Amendment 64 … while a relatively small number of people showed up to object to (the Green Dragon license),” the appeal states.
Both appeals note that the respective applicants followed the rules laid out by the city of Glenwood Springs for recreational marijuana businesses, and are in compliance with the many zoning and licensing requirements.
Releaf states in its appeal, “The applicant has worked very hard and diligently the last year to prepare its retail marijuana license application in strict compliance with the city and state codes. It clearly meets all of the requirements.”
City Council, during a pre-meeting work session July 2, is also set to begin discussing possible revisions to the city’s marijuana codes. A 90-day moratorium on new marijuana license and related land-use applications is currently in place, however several applications were already in process when it was enacted.
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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.