Sara Arbogast of BotanaCare in Northglenn helps customers purchase some recreational marijuana last month. The store is off Interstate 25. (Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post)

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BotanaCare is about to undergo an expansion that will double its size. Hackett refers to 36,000-resident Northglenn as “The Little City That Could.”

“Northglenn took a risk welcoming us in when Thornton and Adams County shut us out because they were afraid,” she said.

She said the city benefits more just through sales-tax revenues collected from pot shops. People who come to town to get cannabis often stop for lunch or at the grocery store, boosting the economic impact of their visit.

Not that Northglenn has approached recreational pot with a sense of abandon. Just last month, the City Council passed a year-long moratorium on the licensing of any new recreational marijuana shops to give the city time to refine its marijuana code.

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While Northglenn is proceeding cautiously, City Manager John Pick said its leaders recognize that 64 percent of residents voted in favor of Amendment 64. The city hasn’t had any issues with its medical marijuana dispensaries, and the tax revenues from the two recreational shops have “pleasantly surprised” city leaders, he said.

Tax revenues are real

More money in municipal coffers has always been one of the strongest arguments for a thriving recreational marijuana industry. And Stalf said the additional revenues for Edgewater are about to have real, on-the-ground results. The city hopes to use five years’ worth of sales-tax collections on marijuana to fund an asphalt-repair effort on the city’s streets.

Wheat Ridge City Manager Patrick Goff said initial conversations have cropped up in City Council sessions to earmark a portion of recreational pot taxes for school-related expenses, including school resource officers.

But for some communities, financial gain is not the prevailing consideration when it comes to marijuana stores. Golden assembled a special task force to determine the direction to take on recreational pot.

Last month, the City Council passed on first reading an ordinance that would prohibit all recreational sales. It is scheduled to cast a final vote on the measure Thursday.

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Golden City Manager Mike Bestor said the council ultimately determined that the presence of marijuana stores wouldn’t jibe with the city’s self-identification as a healthy community. He also said Golden residents can easily buy cannabis from the surrounding cities and towns that do permit a recreational scene.

“We all came to the conclusion that this should not be a financial decision,” Bestor said. “It’s more of a values decision.”

But Gard, the attorney, said communities that shut out recreational marijuana run the risk of seeing illicit dealer networks grow stronger and more entrenched.

“In the suburbs, those illegal distribution lines may be insulated by this not-in-my-backyard attitude,” he said.

Gard suspects that as more cities and towns see how stable and safe the industry can be once the early bugs are worked out, they will overturn their bans and jump aboard the THC train.

“As we move forward, it’s still early days,” Gard said. “Over time, I think we will see many, many more jurisdictions get in the game.”

John Aguilar: 303-954-1695, or

Recreational pot shops in the suburbs

Adams County: Moratorium through Dec. 31
Arapahoe County: Banned
Arvada: Banned
Aurora: Locations to start opening Oct. 1 (capped at 24 stores)
Boulder: Allowed (seven stores)
Brighton: Banned
Broomfield: Moratorium through Jan. 31 (may get extended to 2017)
Castle Rock: Banned
Centennial: Banned
Commerce City: Moratorium through Sept. 24
Douglas County: Banned
Edgewater: Allowed (four stores)
Englewood: Banned
Erie: Moratorium through Dec. 31
Federal Heights: Banned
Glendale: Allowed (no stores)
Golden: Moratorium through June 30
Greenwood Village: Banned
Jefferson County: Moratorium through Jan. 31
Lafayette: Allowed (one store pending)
Lakewood: Moratorium through Jan. 31
Larkspur: Banned
Littleton: Moratorium through Sept. 30
Lone Tree: Banned
Longmont: Banned
Louisville: Allowed (two stores)
Morrison: Banned
Mountain View: Allowed (one store)
Nederland: Allowed (one store)
Northglenn: Allowed (two stores)
Parker: Banned
Sheridan: Banned (sunsets in July 2016)
Superior: Banned
Thornton: Banned
Westminster: Banned
Wheat Ridge: Allowed (four stores)

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