Denver marijuana licensees on Monday received permission from the city to keep their stores open until 10 p.m. — a move the industry says will help it compete with businesses in some neighboring cities.
Stores that offer recreational or medical marijuana sales (or both) will get the option to adjust their hours beginning May 1. Denver has 218 storefronts, making up the lion’s share of stores in the metro area.
The City Council approved a change to the city’s allowed sales hours — currently 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. — after wrestling with the issue for months, including Monday night. Three floor amendments that would have further restricted the extended hours in some way all failed, including Chris Herndon’s suggestion of tying the later sales cut-off to an hour delay in the earliest-allowed morning opening time, to 9 a.m.
Council members voted 11-2 to approve the new 10 p.m. closing time. Herndon and Debbie Ortega — both of whom had concerns about more access to marijuana — voted no.
Tiny Glendale and Edgewater allow their marijuana stores to stay open until midnight (the latest allowed by the state), while Aurora and Commerce City cut off sales at 10 p.m.
The Marijuana Industry Group argued that Denver shops were losing evening sales across city lines and to black-market transactions.
For some neighborhood advocates and council members, though, a midnight closing time was too late — especially after they heard concerns from neighbors of pot shops who said traffic and parking problems were a problem under the present hours. But they saw 10 p.m. as a reasonable compromise that would provide more flexibility for store customers.
“I think it’s a good piece of legislation,” Mayor Michael Hancock said earlier Monday. The council found a solid middle ground, he said, between the industry’s request and community concerns.
Smart Colorado, a group that advocates for protections from marijuana for children, had opposed the extension of operating hours.
Ortega attempted to amend the bill in two ways Monday, but ultimately couldn’t convince enough colleagues because of concerns about the impact. One would have withheld the extended hours from stores that have pending disciplinary actions. The other would have withheld those longer hours from stores that have either medical or recreational products and are seeking licenses to add the other category behind the same storefront, at least until they receive regulatory approval.