Brighton council takes step toward permitting retail, medical marijuana sales

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Lead and part-time manager Angel Martinez refills marijuana flower Thursday, March 28, 2019, at MMJ American Dispensary in Denver. (Daniel Brenner, Special to The Denver Post)

The Brighton City Council by resolution Tuesday night asked city staff to prepare an ordinance permitting the sale of medical and recreational marijuana in the city.

Brighton has been among those communities that have resisted bringing marijuana sales into the city, even though the state approved both medical and retail marijuana and, as noted by council member Peter Padilla, city residents did support the statewide measure.

In November 2021, however, the council asked voters to approve a marijuana sales and tax measure; voters rejected it.

After several months of discussion, staff brought a series of resolutions before the council. The council approved the first — to permit sales establishments — but rejected four others that would have set in motion the creation of ordinances to permit cultivation, testing facilities, product manufacturing and on-premise consumption at hospitality establishments.

Council members expressed mixed emotions about the measures. Mayor Greg Mills led off discussion saying he would not support the retail sales because of the previous public vote.

Councilman Peter Padilla said passing an ordinance would give the city a chance to control how retail sales happen before it is forced on the city. “We’ll eventually lose our ability to control this,” he said.

Matt Johnson concurred, saying that black-market sales have been in Brighton for years and “may be stronger here than other places.”

The council voted 5-3 to direct staff to draft an ordinance permitting retail and medical marijuana sales.

Under a philosophy of “Let’s ease into this,” as noted by council member Ann Taddeo, the council declined to bring any of the other resolutions to a vote.

Cultivation, testing labs, manufacturing and hospitality licenses were seen as a step too far at this time. The council did ask staff to bring back research on whether testing labs and manufacturing facilities might be employment categories that the city should consider.

This story was originally published by BizWest, a BusinessDen news partner.

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