Westwood residents plan to oppose recreational marijuana license for local bar owner

A group of residents in Denver’s Westwood neighborhood say they plan to fight a recreational marijuana license application for one of the nearby medical marijuana dispensaries.

The Stone, 4820 Morrison Road, is the dispensary in question. It is adjacent to the Stone The Club, a nightclub at 4842 Morrison Road. Both are owned by Javier Stone. The Stone dispensary opened in September.

Residents of Westwood are opposed to the owner’s expansion due to crime in the vicinity, with many feeling that the Stone bar is to blame for much of the seedy activity.

“Because they have behaved so badly in the past few years, there really is a lack of trust between the owner and the community,” said Michelle Schoen, co-president of the Westwood Residents Association.

According to the Denver Police Department’s crime map, 21 crimes have been reported there in the past year, including four counts of larceny and four cases of aggravated assault.

Members of the neighborhood said the bar has had a negative impact on the area, and some have seen people selling drugs and prostitution occurring outside.

Westwood resident Daniel Cosain said he witnessed someone selling drugs nearby and is worried about the safety of the children in the area. He also doesn’t want to see more bars add dispensaries nearby.

The Stone will have a public hearing as it tries to obtain a recreational license. The hearing was originally scheduled for Dec. 19, but there was a request for a change of time and a new date had not been selected as of press time. Many from the neighborhood plan to attend to voice their concerns over the bar in hopes that Denver Excise and Licenses will rule against the expansion.

“We just have no reason to trust them,” resident Mark Hobart said.

Javier Stone said he didn’t know there was a plan to protest his dispensary’s expansion and denies that his bar has been a problem for the community.

He also thinks the neighborhood’s opinion of the bar shouldn’t impact the dispensary since they are different businesses, even though they are next to each other and share ownership.

Stone said he wants to expand because many people who attend his bar are interested in buying marijuana, but don’t have medical marijuana cards.

“I think sales would increase and it would just be good for everybody,” Stone said.

District 3 City Councilman Paul D. Lopez is part of the opposition and said that Stone has not met with him about the application.

“Usually when someone has an application, they come and talk to me and find out where I’m at,” Lopez said.

Lopez typically doesn’t attend hearings as a party of interest, but said he changed his mind when it comes to marijuana.

Lopez said he and the community have successfully fought liquor licenses in the past and haven’t lost yet when it comes to opposing licensing in the neighborhood.

Lopez and the members of the neighborhood indicated that is not an ideological issue, but an opposition to this business only.

Larry Stevenson, director of public affairs with Denver Excise and Licenses, said that protests of a licenses, whether for marijuana or liquor, are common. He said that hearings for recreational marijuana licenses have been going on since mid-November. While some have faced opposition, Stevenson said many went through smoothly.

Joe Vaccarelli: 303-954-2396, jvaccarelli@denverpost.com or twitter.com/joe_vacc

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