(Helen H. Richardson, Denver Post file)

Wheat Ridge finalizes pot rules; no new cannabis businesses, buffers set

WHEAT RIDGE — The City Council on Monday put an end to months of debate over how the sale of marijuana should be managed, passing a measure limiting the number of cannabis businesses that can open in the city and setting distance buffers from schools and parks.

The council by a vote of 8-0 to set a cap for both recreational pot shops and medical marijuana dispensaries at five and the number of product-manufacturing facilities at three.

That is the number of cannabis businesses that currently exist in Wheat Ridge.

But the vote didn’t come without plenty of concern from residents — many of whom wore red anti-pot stickers on their shirts — about the burgeoning cannabis industry and its place in the city.

Weed not welcome everywhere: Colo. cities, towns take diverging paths on recreational pot

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

Several residents said they hoped that voters in Wheat Ridge would get the chance in the future to vote on the issue.

Resident Kelly Brooks suggested the council proactively review the effects of having pot shops in the city on a regular basis. “You’ve committed my kids to an experiment they didn’t ask to take part in,” he said.

Barbara St. John, a resident who opposes retail marijuana in Wheat Ridge, said the city’s image is being harmed by the industry.

“We want a wholesome family lifestyle and marijuana doesn’t help that,” she said.

But a couple of Wheat Ridge pot shop owners and their representatives told the council they are a legal enterprise in Colorado and just want to be treated like any other business.

Map: Colorado recreational marijuana shops and medical dispensaries

The measure passed Monday disallows pot operations within 1,000 feet of a city park, school, the city’s recreation center and residential child care facilities — or within three-quarters of a mile from each other.

Any grow operation associated with a storefront would be limited to 5,000 square feet in size.

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

Monday’s gathering of more than 100 residents resembled the heavy turnout at City Hall in late September, when the council took up the topic of cannabis regulations during a study session.

A second ordinance was also to be considered Monday that would allow existing pot shops to get dual licenses for recreational and medical pot sales.

This story was first published on DenverPost.com