Thursday, December 19, 2013

Marijuana Dispensaries Fighting Opposition Under The New Recreational Rules In Denver

Below is the playbook of Smart Colorado for stopping the permitting of dispensaries under the new recreational rules in Denver. Put this under the heading of knowing you enemy. I had a client approved at one of these Denver hearings yesterday and I've been working for dispensaries facing opposition in their neighborhood. Contact me if you have any questions.

Sean T. McAllister, Esq.
McAllister Law Office, P.C.
36 Steele St., Suite 200
Denver, CO 80206
(Ph) 720-722-0048
(Fax) 720-542-8391
Offices in Denver and Summit County

1. Determine whether a 25 day extension on the hearing should be sought

a. must be a relevant registered neighborhood organization
b. request must be submitted in writing within 10 days of receiving emailed notice of the hearing
c. hearing WILL be rescheduled

2. Determine whether an evening hearing should be sought

a. must be party in interest
b. request must be submitted in writing at least 15 days prior to scheduled hearing date
c. granted at the discretion of the Director

3. Get a copy of and review the relevant file.

Five days prior to hearing request copy of findings by Denver Excise & License (EXL). Call the phone number listed on the Notice for New Retail Marijuana Store. (The Policies and Procedures Manual recommends that parties intending to participate in the hearing do this. Do not be bullied by employees of EXL into believing you are not entitled to this information.)

4. Notify residents within the Designated Area (5 blocks N/S/E/W of the proposed store).

While the Relevant Registered Neighborhood Organization (RNO) is given notice, individual residents are not. Consider a flyer or phone tree.

5. Convene RNO meeting.

Seek vote and official statement of opposition from RNO. Identify RNO representative for hearing.
6. Consider circulation of a petition, but do not use “needs and desires” language from liquor license petitions.

7. Seek assistance from your City Council member.

8. Execute good neighbor agreement?

Issues involving retail marijuana will be different than liquor. Four provisions can run with the license. Ex: trash, odor abatement, public consumption, sale of edibles. Not required to be executed prior to hearing, but parties must be ready at hearing to agree to negotiate and seek delay on license issuance from Excise & License.

9. Prepare for hearing:

a. Identify parties in interest (PI)
b. Prepare testimony on adverse impact to health, welfare and public safety
c. Select a representative to do cross-examination of applicant’s witnesses and introduce parties in interest (limited to 3 individuals, additional PI can testify as a group)
d. Prepare exhibits and visuals, prepare for objections by both applicant and city to admissibility
e. Go to another hearing to watch the proceeding

10. Avoid speculative evidence of adverse impact on health, welfare or public safety. Recent hearing decisions and questions indicate admissible evidence must be:

a. tied to specific applicant, not general facts and information
b. based on PAST evidence of criminal activity, public consumption or loitering on or adjacent to the applicant's property. Examples: that police were called, or that applicant violated operating hours, had loitering or public consumption outside and witness saw the customer exit the facility or asked the loiterer or consumer where they obtained their marijuana (this is hearsay testimony that might be admitted in this context)

11. Get copy of the Hearing Officer's Recommended Decision.

At the end of the hearing, ask to be put on the distribution list.

12. Consider filing written objections to the Recommended Decision within 10 days of the emailing of the Recommended Decision.

All parties listed on the Certificate of Mailing must be mailed or emailed a copy of the written objections.