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Dacono eyes further pot shop ban

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Amendment 64 allows the city to prohibit new marijuana shops

By Ben Wiebesiek

DACONO — City voters will decide in a special election scheduled May 7 if medical marijuana dispensaries can return to Dacono.
    But council moved Feb. 11 to ban all marijuana dispensaries on first reading prior to the special election.

    Council members Peggy Randolph, Michael Ayres, Kevin Plain and Mayor Pro Tem Joe Baker voted for the proposed ban. Council members Geneiveve Schneider and Steve Bruno voted no.
    City Attorney Kathleen Kelly discussed with council before the vote the details of Amendment 64, which voters approved last fall, legalizes possession and sale of marijuana for recreational purposes.
    “Amendment 64 authorizes local governments, such as the city of Dacono, to prohibit the operation of marijuana cultivation facilities, marijuana product manufacturing facilities, marijuana testing facilities or retail marijuana stores in the enactment of an ordinance,” Kelly said. “Those are the terms that are used in Amendment 64. We carried those terms forward into this ordinance that’s provided for your consideration.”
    Kelly said another concept was added to the Dacono ordinance: banning a new type of business known as a “marijuana club.”
    “You may have seen around New Year’s, there was a lot of publicity about some marijuana clubs that cropped up in Denver and elsewhere in the state,” Kelly said. “Essentially these are places where people come together — they’re commercial establishments — where they come together to consume marijuana. They pay a club admission or entry fee in order to do that.”
    The ordinance bans marijuana clubs at commercial or residential locations.
    Councilwoman Schneider noted that the wording of the ordinance did not distinguish between recreational use and other uses of marijuana.
    “Which gives me the impression that if it so looked at, all marijuana is banned,” Schneider said.
    “Well, medical marijuana is currently banned in the city of Dacono,” Kelly responded.
    “But I’m saying this ordinance would either be negated or altered by the vote we’re going to have in May,” Schneider said.
    The definitions came directly from Amendment 64, Kelly said.
    Bruno said he’s never used any type of marijuana, but he was concerned that the ban was in opposition to the legalization that Dacono voters approved in 2012.
    “I’m looking at this from the point of view of, ‘What is the will of the voters?’ What is it that they actually want?” Bruno said. “You haven’t allowed people to make the decision before. We didn’t allow people to make the decision back in June. It was just council. And it’s based on opinion.”
    He wondered if the ban was motivated by personal disagreement about the image of Dacono to outside residents and businesses.
    “Your job on council is not to sit up here and mandate your morals. Your job is to act as the voice of the people,” Bruno said. “I think we’re being hasty here, and I don’t like how the ban’s written.”
    He told council the ban should be brought to the voters first.
    Kelly replied that Amendment 64 had strict requirements about city votes for bans that would restrict the decision to general election dates in even-numbered years.

Contact Ben Wiebesiek at 303-659-2522, ext. 205, or email bwiebesiek@metrowestnewspapers.com.