Editorial: A fickle, puzzling marijuana shop decision | PostIndependent.com

Editorial: A fickle, puzzling marijuana shop decision

OK, let’s get this straight. If that’s possible.

The needs and desires of the adult inhabitants of Glenwood Springs, as city hearing officer Angela Roff interpreted them in June, led her to deny licenses to two recreational marijuana stores proposed for downtown. One store, which drew the most opposition, was planned for 919 Grand Ave., next to the Glenwood Vaudeville Revue. The other would have been at 404 10th St., a block off of Grand.

But this month, Roff decided the right thing to do was approve a new store at a location with much more foot traffic than either of the other two locations, at 818 Grand Ave.

Her reasoning: Unlike at hearings for the two rejected applications, at which organized opposition showed up in droves, most of those at the recent hearings supported the new shops — the store on Grand and a grow site and shop on Devereux Road in Glenwood’s industrial area. The latter of these, also approved, seems to make sense given the character of its location.

But if the desires of the community earlier this year said Glenwood had enough pot stores downtown, it requires some back flips of logic to think that dramatically changed in three months. More likely, the would-be store operators learned from June’s decisions the importance of turning out supporters and the city’s opponents became complacent, believing they had won the point. We understand how they would feel that way.

To make the decision even more baffling, Roff wrote that “Having yet another retail store on Grand Avenue may change the look and feel of this city … (and) approval of this application may turn tourists away.”

To be clear, the Post Independent does not oppose marijuana stores. The Kind Castle will be two doors down from the PI offices, but this editorial isn’t affected by proximity. Our position, stated before Roff’s June decisions and changes in city ordinances governing marijuana operations, was that the city should let the market sort out how many stores Glenwood can support.

What has happened since has been both complicated and confounding.

Roff rejected the two applications. Then the City Council adopted new rules that take Roff out of the picture for new licenses, though she will continue to consider annual license renewals. Under the new system, the council will have final say on new licenses, and the required distance between shops is now 900 feet, rather than 325 feet before.

We haven’t gotten out the tape measure, but online maps say that the Kind Castle is well within 900 feet of Green Joint at 11th and Grand.

That doesn’t matter, though — Roff was bound by the city’s previous rules, which is why several applications filed before a moratorium and the ordinance change moved forward.

Under those rules, after rejecting the two applications in June, Roff approved an application from Martin’s Naturals at 216 Sixth St. to convert from being strictly a medical dispensary to recreational sales. While mildly surprising, the store was already in place, so granting the recreational license didn’t change much downtown.

But the Kind Castle does, and this evident inconsistency is no way for a city to set its business climate. We know that the City Council appreciates that legal marijuana operators are making investments and contributing revenue to town — and may be a welcome hedge when the next recession comes. In setting its new rules, the council sought to strike a balance between that reality and the wave of opposition shown in the community earlier this summer.

Now it must figure out how to ensure consistency in city policy — including for license renewals. At this point, who knows what will happen when existing stores come up for renewal?

This all just got passed back to the council.

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