(John Leyba, Denver Post file)

Aurora gives prelim OK on marijuana regs; shop openings set for Oct. 1

The Aurora City Council has given preliminary approval to new recreational marijuana regulations that include having $400,000 cash in hand or assets in that amount to open a pot shop.

The council passed the measures late Monday on first reading. Final approval is scheduled for May 12. If all goes as planned, the application process for the 24 retail marijuana shops begins July 1. The shops could begin opening Oct. 1.

The city will use a points system that will be based on certain benchmarks an applicant reaches.

“Some of the people need to understand that the federal government is looking at the state of Colorado and city of Aurora to watch how we are going to do retail marijuana,” City Councilwoman Barb Cleland said on why it has taken more than year to come up with the regulations.

Related: Aurora residents question high-dollar rules for potential rec shop owners

Among the regulations: Pot shops have to be at least 1,000 feet from a school and 300 feet from an existing residence. The shops can be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Aurora is expecting sales tax revenues of about $2.8 million annually, with operating costs for licensing and enforcement estimated at $700,000.

Bob Roth, chairman of the city’s Amendment 64 committee, said he was pleased with the final regulations. He understands that some say capping the number of shops at 24 squeezes out the little guy.

“If we limit it to 24, we might as well make sure we get the best 24,” Roth said. “This council or some future council can certainly relax that, but it’s going to be a whole lot harder to tighten it.”

This story was first published on DenverPost.com