In this Aug. 25, 2014 photo, marijuana store Denver Relief co-owner Kayvan Khalatbari, right, talks with his employee Jeff Botkin. (Brennan Linsley, Associated Press)

Denver City Council OKs 120-day moratorium on new marijuana players

Extended restriction on recreational market and new ban on medical marijuana applications are seen as "transition phase"

A shortened four-month expanded moratorium on new players in Denver’s legal marijuana markets won easy approval Monday night from the City Council.

After longer discussions in a committee late last month, the council passed the ordinance changes quietly as part of a block vote.

The city’s existing two-year moratorium — set to expire Jan. 1 — has allowed only existing medical marijuana license holders to open recreational dispensaries, grow houses or edible manufacturers. That restriction was aimed at preventing the newly legalized recreational pot market from being flooded by newcomers when retail sales began in 2014.

Mayor Michael Hancock’s marijuana adviser had sought to extend that restriction another two years, through the start of 2018, while instituting a similar moratorium on any new medical marijuana license applications, freezing that market.

In response to council concerns, city officials reduced the length of the new moratoriums to 120 days, for now.

Ashley Kilroy and her staff still plan to lobby council members over the next 120 days to extend the “transition phase” to the full two years, giving them more time to assess the legal marijuana industry’s impact.

Jon Murray: 303-954-1405, jmurray@denverpost.com or @JonMurray

This story was first published on DenverPost.com