Medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado Springs may be allowed to stay open later to help patients access their medicine.
Dispensaries in town are currently allowed to remain open until 7 p.m., but the City Council on Monday briefly discussed extending that closing time to 9 p.m. No council members present at the meeting spoke out against the proposal.
Colorado allows medical marijuana dispensaries to stay open until midnight, said City Clerk Sarah Johnson. The state's laws, alongside the later working hours afforded to pharmacies in town, set a precedent for the extended hours. She said the idea was suggested by medical dispensary owner, Renze Waddington, who sits on the city's Marijuana Working Group.
Waddington said he owns two medical marijuana dispensaries in town, each called The Epic Remedy, and a third location is set to open this month.
Every day, Waddington said his two locations serve about 300 customers, a fifth of which make up a consistent last-minute rush. Many customers have a difficult time making it to the businesses before closing time, and an extra two hours would help in that regard, he said.
"It's hard especially because it's still light out until later. There are construction workers out banging nails during the daylight and maybe they want to run out and get their medicine when they're off work," Waddington said. "It's not uncommon for us to have to turn a customer away because we stop taking customers at 6:55 p.m."
That inconvenience extends to stay-at-home parents, blue and white collar workers alike, Waddington said.
The city currently has 132 licensed medical marijuana dispensaries and El Paso County has about 19,500 people with medical marijuana cards, Johnson said. The proposed hour change has been touted as a business and customer friendly move.
City Councilman David Geislinger, who also sits on the working group, said he supports the change because it lessens the struggle some patients face and the extended hours are reasonable for the businesses.
Recalling conversations with Colorado Springs Police Department representatives, Geislinger said the extra hours would likely reduce the number of robberies, burglaries and trespassing calls at the medical marijuana dispensaries because when the businesses are open they have employees and security staff present.
The change would be a "bit less of a strain on the police department," Geislinger said.
If extended working hours translates to more medical marijuana sales the city will rake in more tax money, Waddington said. The move could also create jobs.
When his third shop opens this month, Waddington said he expects to have about 40 employees. That number might increase if the businesses will be allowed to stay open later, he said.
Councilman Merv Bennett, who has previously spoken out against legalizing the sale of recreational marijuana in town said he'll support the proposal because it appears as though the working group thoroughly vetted the issue and the change seems reasonable. Councilman Andy Pico, who has also spoken out against recreational marijuana said he'll "probably" support the change.
The issue will go before the council for a vote later this month, Johnson said.