By Caroline Schomp
Denver’s marijuana industry is beginning a push to extend hours past the currently mandated 7p.m. There’s no formal proposal yet, but the Denver City Council Special Issues Marijuana Committee heard from the cannabis industry on Jan. 9 that Denver could receive more tax and licensing revenue if stores and dispensaries were allowed to stay open until 10p.m. or even midnight.
Kristi Kelly, representing the Marijuana Industry Group (MIG), a trade association, said a survey of cannabis sellers outside of Denver showed "[t]he revenue Denver could realize is hemorrhaging into other communities.”
Aurora and Commerce City allow sales until 10p.m.; Glendale and Edgewater permit sales until midnight.
Kelly said Denver could realize as much as 25 percent more revenue if its 450-plus marijuana sales locations stayed open until 12a.m. 2015 marijuana tax and license revenue came to $29.5 million.
Tiffany Goldman, owner of The Health Center in University Hills, said convenience and good customer service require later hours. “Adjusting schedules is sometimes very difficult,” she said.
The cannabis industry considers extended hours to be an essential part of implementing Initiative 300. Approved by voters in November, it would allow social consumption of marijuana in licensed businesses that set aside dedicated “consumption areas,” but no sales.
Since they expect more social consumption after 7p.m., later hours at nearby marijuana outlets create cross-business opportunities, giving social users a place to consume the marijuana they buy.
“Back-alley transactions go away if there are legal sales outlets with late hours, and dark storefronts become light,” lowering the incidence of crime, Kelly said. Plus, a five-hour extension would mean additional well paying jobs with benefits.More than 50 marijuana retail stores and dispensaries are located in areas served by the The Profile, with large clusters along South Broadway and South Santa Fe Drive. The thriving social scene in South Denver means several businesses in that area will likely apply for social consumption licenses.
District Six Councilman Paul Kashmann told The Profile he thinks marijuana stores generally have less impact on adjacent neighborhoods than liquor outlets, of which there are far more. He might favor later hours, but likely not until midnight.
“There’s no need to add another burden on neighborhoods, such as doors slamming and loud conversations, but Denver is competing with other businesses in other communities," he said.
The Department of Excise and Licensing convened a Social Consumption Advisory Committee including both neighborhood and industry representatives to help it set rules and regulations.