Denver City Council will consider putting a limit on the number of marijuana businesses. The proposal before council on Monday would place a citywide cap on marijuana grows and stores.
Councilwoman Robin Kniech is behind the ordinance. If it passes, 50 businesses with pending marijuana license applications could still be approved. Industry leaders say millions of dollars are at stake from companies waiting on approval.
"It's very difficult to find the balance point between protecting neighborhoods and existing businesses," said Kniech.
Some Denver City Council members want to replace a moratorium restricting the growth of the state's largest legal marijuana market with caps that they argue would protect saturated neighborhoods.
In neighborhoods like Globeville and Elyria-Swansea a group of community leaders say the moratorium doesn't go far enough to address concerns about saturation. Not only does the area have a high concentration of marijuana businesses, but the grows are located near homes and right next to a school.
"It has been portrayed as protecting the neighborhoods, it keeps the status quo and that is not protection for the saturated neighborhoods," said Nancy Grandys-Jones, a Globeville business owner.
Kneich said she has heard from other council members who plan to introduce amendments that would create more protections for neighborhoods. She also points out the proposal would include what she calls "drastic" buffer zones for neighborhoods and schools.
Denver is currently under a marijuana moratorium as council debates how to better regulate the industry.
"I think it’s completely unfair that we’re even considering not letting the licenses go through," said Lauren Harris, a marijuana business consultant and owner of Dynama Consulting. "The moratorium, as we understood it, was about to end and that, everyone kind of based their businesses on this date of the moratorium ending."
Globeville resident and business owner, Vernon Hill, hopes council listens to his concerns. His business is across the street from a grow operation where he can usually smell marijuana and has called the cops on people loitering nearby.
"They don’t live it every day so how could they understand the situation that we’re going through as a resident and or as a business," said Hill.
Josh Ginsberg, CEO of Native Roots, believes that all pending applications should be honored.
"Some groups have invested millions of dollars and paid licensing and application fees in reliance of the rules at the time of application. All in an effort to meet city and state requirements. To change the criteria for pending applications would be unjust and bad faith on behalf of the legislators," said Ginsberg.