Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Could Manitou Springs Be Overrun by Pot Shops?

You would be forgiven if you thought Manitou Springs mayor Marc Snyder was being facetious when he told an Independent reporter back in May of his concern the city would be “overrun” by a dozen pot shops if Colorado Springs rejected retail sales of cannabis. Snyder suggested he and the city council would need to set a pot shop limit in Manitou. 

Manitou Springs is a mountainous enclave of 5,000 souls, most of them liberal folks. Last November, voters approved Colorado’s Amendment 64 by more than a 2-to-1 ratio, which suggests the city is already overrun with weed. And if there is weed in Manitou Springs, it most likely didn’t come from the city’s lone medical marijuana dispensary, which sits just east of the arch that bears the city’s name.

As local media outlets broke the news that Colorado Springs had banned retail sales of cannabis, public attention immediately shifted towards Manitou. Many people tweeted and posted on social media sites that Manitou would get right what Colorado Springs got wrong. Even reporters jumped into the fray, suggesting Manitou’s streets would be paved with greenbacks bought from weed. 

Last week, Snyder reiterated his contention the city needed to be wary of being overrun by pot shops. In a story the Gazette published with Snyder’s updated remarks, it noted, “On average, Manitou has a 2 percent retail space vacancy rate.” 

According to Manitou’s medical marijuana dispensary licensing/code enforcement rules, no stores selling cannabis are allowed downtown. Any business that sells cannabis must be located within commercial zones placed around the city, mainly along Colorado Avenue. Additionally, many of the commercial areas are not developed or are in disrepair. 

With low retail space available in the city, where will the pot shops go? And how many pot shops could exist without Snyder pushing for a limit? 

Manitou Springs is probably too small to hold more than a dozen pot shops under existing regulations. Any future pot shops will probably be small operations serving small groups of clients so as not to attract too much attention from federal prosecutors. There’s also the proximity issues: pot shops cannot be located too closely to one another, schools, neighborhoods, and so on. 

Then there’s the last little bit of the puzzle: current medical marijuana dispensary licensing regulations require businesses and individuals apply through the city council. That means Snyder and the city council cast the final approval (or rejection) of any person or business attempting to open a dispensary (or pot shop) in Manitou Springs. 

If Manitou Springs were to be overrun or turned into a “mecca for marijuana,” it would be solely at the discretion of Snyder and the city council. The city, therefore, stands no chance of being overrun by anything, except, well … pay-to-park signs.


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Snyder: City "Leaning" Towards Pot Retail Sales; "Considerations" To Be Addressed

Recently, Manitou Springs mayor Marc Snyder went on public record as stating the city council is “leaning towards” legalizing retail sales of cannabis. Snyder also stated there were “considerations” and “some type of licensing” that had to be addressed as the city moves towards the legal, commercial selling of marijuana products.

Some of the considerations Snyder mentioned:

  • How many shops to be allowed
  • Where should pot shops be located
  • How close to schools can pot shops be located
  • How close to one another can pot shops be located

Snyder and the Manitou Springs city council may copy and apply existing city requirements for medical marijuana centers to retail marijuana sales centers (or pot shops).

Current requirements for medical marijuana dispensaries in Manitou Springs

“As measured from the property boundary, no medical  marijuana center shall be located within five hundred (500) feet of the following:
a. Any educational institution or school, either public or private;
b. Any licensed child care facility;
c. Any alcohol or drug rehabilitation facility

"As measured from the property boundary, no medical marijuana center shall be located within 200 feet of any existing medical marijuana business whether such business is located within or outside of the City."

Other requirements:

  • No advertising signs of any kind is allowed on premises; signs cannot use the words “cannabis," “marijuana” and other phrases and words synonymous with marijuana.
  • No shops in downtown area; can only be located in zones designated as commercial
  • Security systems required.
  • Security surveillance systems required.
  • Robbery & burglary alarm systems required.
  • Can be open only between 8:00am-7:00pm.
  • On-site consumption of cannabis/marijuana prohibited.
  • Secure safe to store/lock marijuana required.
  • Background checks on all employees
  • Must report new hires’ & their background checks to city

City council meets to discuss these considerations and more during a work session August 13 at City Hall (606 Manitou Avenue).