Letter: Regulating marijuana like alcohol
The citizens of Colorado petitioned the voters to adopt an amendment to the constitution to allow for the possession, use and sale of recreational marijuana. The campaign for the passage of this amendment was very clearly to “Regulate marijuana like alcohol.” The amendment itself speaks to the regulation of the substance as we do alcohol.
The sale of alcohol is a very regulated business activity in the state. The state and many jurisdictions have adopted a standard of review for the licensing of new alcohol retail establishments that is commonly referred to as “the needs and desires of the neighborhood.” This particular regulation is one that allows a local government to restrict the licensing of a new establishment if there is evidence that the local citizenry is already being adequately serviced by existing establishments, or the needs of the neighborhood are already being met. This requirement has been litigated many times, and this standard has been upheld as lawful by the appellate courts of this state.
Glenwood Springs has adopted a regulation that it words as meeting the requirements and desires of the neighborhood. A finding regarding whether the needs and desires of the neighborhood are met is actually required when reviewing new licenses for the sale of both alcohol and marijuana.
I do not know the origin of the standard, but it is used to prevent the proliferation of outlets for alcohol and marijuana in an area. It prevents the area from becoming a central distributor to outsiders who are not part of that community.
The neighborhood is something that the locality does define when reviewing an application. With other outlets being located very close to the proposed location on Grand Avenue, isn’t it clear that the residents in this neighborhood are already adequately serviced?
I disagree with your analysis and characterization of the city ordinance and the decision of the city’s hearing official. The regulation is firmly grounded in the state and has been used by many, many jurisdictions and withstands challenges. The hearing officer’s decision is soundly based in the law. In addition it is totally in keeping with what the promoters of the constitutional amendment intended when they campaigned for its passage to “Regulate marijuana like alcohol.”
Sherry A. Caloia, Ninth District Attorney
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