Marijuana shops banned in Westminster

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Although possession of an ounce or less of marijuana is legal for 21-year-olds in Colorado, purchasing the drug in Westminster from retail stores is not.

During its Jan. 28 meeting, Westminster City Council unanimously approved an ordinance to prohibit the retail sale of marijuana within city limits.

Under Amendment 64, passed in November, local governments can choose to prohibit, by ordinance or referendum, marijuana cultivation facilities, marijuana product manufacturing facilities, marijuana testing facilities and retail marijuana stores.

“To me marijuana is the gateway drug and something I never messed with," said councilor Mark Kaiser. “I'm definitely a no on the sale.”

Council previously addressed this issue during a Jan. 7 study session. It was clear then all council members were in favor of the ordinance.

“I don't see how we can realize a benefit out of this. I personally don't want to see this in Westminster. If I had a magic wand, I would like to go back and fix 64,” said councilor Herb Atchison.

According to the staff report, should marijuana businesses be permitted within the city, the resulting demand on police, code enforcement, legal accounting and other limited resources would be significant. Kaiser agreed and said the demand on the local law enforcement would increase.

“I don't think there is enough sales tax revenue to offset what it's going to cost us in law enforcement,” he said.

Although city staff stated marijuana businesses may cause a higher demand on the Westminster Police Department, public information officer Trevor Materasso said because the city doesn't have a background or history with marijuana facilities, it's hard to determine whether or not law enforcement would be impacted by retail stores in the city.

“For us we don't have a track record to compare. We can't say what specifically what demands or workload would be required,” he said. “But this was a council decision and we support any decision passed by them.”

In July of 2010 an ordinance was adopted prohibiting medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation facilities. These provisions are now being amended to also prohibit the activities addressed in Amendment 64.