Hancock: Denver should phase in legal marijuana slowly, outlaw pot clubs

DENVER — In his first public comments to date about how the city should implement Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana statewide, Mayor Michael Hancock pushed for a slow, measured approach and announced his opposition to marijuana clubs, a few of which have already taken root downtown.

Hancock also informed city council members and other interested stakeholders attending a Monday afternoon issues committee meeting that he also opposes open consumption of marijuana in public places.

“There are no easy answers to what we are facing,” Hancock said. “Our children’s future depends on our actions right now.”

Hancock told the committee that he spoke not just as the city’s mayor but as a parent.

“I worry about how the increased presence of marijuana in our city will affect our children and our grandchildren.”

In a letter sent to the city’s Amendment 64 Special Issues Committee, Hancock writes that his administration “generally supports the state Task Force’s overall plan.”

Amendment 64 calls for regulations to be promulgated by July 1 and state lawmakers, who wrap up the legislative session in roughly a month, have yet to introduce an omnibus bill based on the state Task Force’s recommendations.

If Denver opts in, Hancock says his administration supports: a two-year phase-in period during which only existing medical marijuana licenses can apply for licenses under the new law; standards to protect neighborhoods; a “meaningful” public hearing process; zoning restrictions to keep marijuana retail outlets away from schools; and a funding structure that pays for itself.

Overall, Hancock says that prudence should not give way to expediency, that the implementation of Amendment 64 should be done carefully.

“There is no denying [sic] the poential for a negative impact on our kids — on their home lives, their health, their education and their future,” Hancock writes. “We already know the toll substance abuse takes on so many of our residents. Sadly, many of them are parents. The cost of substance abuse on our healthcare system, our jails and in our courts is substantial. I want more for all of our kids and for all Denverites.”