For the second time in six years, Lakewood voters will determine the fate of retail marijuana in the city. Lakewood City Council voted in favor of sending a citizen-initiated ordinance to adopt …
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For the second time in six years, Lakewood voters will determine the fate of retail marijuana in the city.
Lakewood City Council voted in favor of sending a citizen-initiated ordinance to adopt regulations governing retail marijuana stores and retail marijuana cultivation facilities in the city at an Aug. 24 council meeting. The ordinance, carried out by the proponent Vote Yes for a Stronger Lakewood, a campaign aimed at legalizing recreational marijuana in the city, garnered 6,671 valid signatures and was submitted to the Lakewood City Clerk’s Office on June 2.
The Vote Yes for a Stronger Lakewood group is partially funded by Ascend Cannabis, a marijuana company, Westword reported. Scott Embree, owner of Ascend Cannabis, said in a statement that Lakewood residents who are purchasing adult-use marijuana are going to Denver, Edgewater and other surrounding communities to do so. He said Ascend Cannabis estimates that Lakewood is losing millions of tax dollars to other communities because Lakewood residents are going to those communities for marijuana.
“As Lakewood works to bounce back from COVID-19 we need to keep those millions in Lakewood and use it to improve our streets and grow parks and open space. In the time of declining sales tax revenue to the city, we hope Lakewood residents will support this ballot initiative and keep Lakewood’s tax dollars in Lakewood,” Embree said in the statement.
If the ordinance is passed by voters on Nov. 3, it will allow for 10 existing medical marijuana dispensaries in Lakewood to sell recreational marijuana to adults ages 21 and older from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
One of those shops, Ascend Cannabis at W. Alameda Ave., estimates that retail marijuana sales could generate $3 million to $5 million each year for the city.
The bordering cities of Wheat Ridge and Denver both allow recreational marijuana sales, though unincorporated Jefferson County does not.
Per city code, Lakewood City Council had the option of either adopting the ordinance or sending it to voters, like what it did with the city’s growth cap, which was passed by voters in July of 2019 and limits new home construction to 1% of Lakewood’s current housing stock. Lakewood City Council voted 10-0 in favor of sending the retail marijuana ordinance to voters.
“(I) certainly think there is some measure tone to this, and it’s smartly written, and I certainly hope the community will engage and have conversations,” Lakewood Mayor Adam Paul said at the Aug. 24 meeting.
In 2014, Lakewood citizens voted 54.9% to 45.1% to ban retail marijuana sales in the city. Medical marijuana dispensaries are legal in Lakewood, but permits are currently not issued for new dispensaries.
“Here we are (six years) later and some citizens have asked that this be reconsidered, apparently thinking that maybe the citizens have changed their mind. Well, I for one do not want to try to guess or override what the citizens decided (six) years ago, and I think the only way we can know if they have changed their mind is give them a chance to weigh in at the ballot box,” Lakewood City Councilmember Mike Bieda said at the meeting.
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