(Helen H. Richardson, Denver Post file)

No more room for weed in Wheat Ridge: City putting limits on pot shops

WHEAT RIDGE — The City Council is nearing the end of settling a months-long debate over how cannabis, both medical and recreational, should be regulated in this western suburb.

On Monday, the council by a 8-0 vote passed on first reading an ordinance to cap the number of both pot shops and dispensaries in town at five and the number of marijuana products manufacturing facilities at three.

The measure would also prohibit pot businesses within 1,000 feet of a city park, school, the city’s recreation center and residential child care facilities — or within ¾ of a mile from each other.

A second and final vote on the issue is scheduled for Jan. 26.

The proposed caps would essentially maintain the status quo on pot in Wheat Ridge, which has one recreational shop, one dispensary, and three storefronts with dual licenses. There are also three products-manufacturing facilities in the city.

Map: Colorado recreational marijuana shops and medical dispensaries

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Wheat Ridge City Manager Patrick Goff said the ordinance reflects an attempt to strike a balance between Colorado’s nascent marijuana industry in the city and pushback from some residents.

City Hall was packed in late September when the council took up the topic of cannabis regulations during a study session. Many people were concerned about the number and location of pot shops in the city.

Wheat Ridge, along with Edgewater and Mountain View, are the only cities in Denver’s western suburbs to allow the sale of recreational pot.

“It’s an effort to address the most recent citizen concerns,” Goff said. “The primary issue was ‘how many more of these do we really need?’ “

The city placed a moratorium on any new marijuana businesses in August so that city leaders could come up with a set of rules for the industry.

Goff said the ordinance before council exempts the two marijuana businesses in the city that fall inside what will be the new distance buffers.

“They would be allowed to stay; they would be considered a legal nonconforming use,” he said.

A second ordinance was passed on Monday, also on first reading, that allows those two that fall within the 1,000-foot buffer to get dual licenses for recreational and medical pot sales.

John Aguilar: 303-954-1695, jaguilar@denverpost.com or twitter.com/abuvthefold

This story was first published on DenverPost.com