PW could see more pot stores this year
There could be as many as 10 additional outlets
Despite an extended moratorium on the number of new marijuana centers in Pueblo West, there’s still a possibility that the metropolitan district will see 10 new stores before the end of next year.
The Pueblo Board of County Commissioners extended the county’s moratorium on retail marijuana stores in the county through 2015 and capped the number of new medical store licenses in Pueblo West this month.
But the resolution, passed Aug. 4 and made effective Aug. 11, also made an exception for applicants who were already in the process of securing their medical store permits with an eye toward converting to recreational sales.
The county has a limit of 10 recreational stores for 2014. There was concern that not giving current medical licensees a chance at a new recreational license next year was unfair to businesses that had invested thousands of dollars with the intent to open a recreational store after the initial cap was lifted.
The result, according to Commissioner Sal Pace, was a lot of last-minute applicants looking to get their paperwork to the county before the deadline of Aug. 11.
Anita Garcia, marijuana licensing specialist, said that by Aug. 8, her office had received 23 applications for medical marijuana stores, including 10 in Pueblo West and six in the St. Charles Mesa area.
Technically, all the applicants could qualify to convert to recreational marijuana, but Pace said he didn’t expect all of the applicants to reach the commissioners.
“I think some of those were trying to get their applications in at the last minute,” Pace said. “I don’t expect all of these folks to follow through on their applications.”
The new moratorium was a response to public frustration by some residents in Pueblo West over a high concentration of retail marijuana stores in their community.
Of the initial 10 recreational licenses available for 2014, seven were located in Pueblo West.
Mark Carmel, a member of the Pueblo West Metropolitan Board who was complimentary of the expanded moratorium when it was passed, said the prospect of 10 new stores in Pueblo West wasn’t what anyone was expecting from the new resolution.
“While it certainly appears consistent with the resolution the county passed, it appears inconsistent with the expectations of the Pueblo West community that there would not be a proliferation of new storefronts beyond the 10,” Carmel said.
He said he was surprised by the result.
“I think that Pueblo West will be represented at all the hearings to request a large scale proliferation of new stores does not take place,” he said.