DOPE: Pot Shops Outnumber Starbucks In Denver


PORTFOLIO: If you want more proof that selling legal pot is a booming business, consider this statistic: Denver has more medical-marijuana shops than Starbucks Corp. locations. Denver’s City Treasurer Steve Ellington tells ABC New affiliate Channel 7 that at least 390 pot dispensaries applied for a sales-tax license recently. That compares to 208 Starbucks in the entire state of Colorado, the station reports. Denver’s city council took a step toward regulating the marijuana stores last night, and the businesses are filing their tax applications. The Denver statistic sheds light on a business that is becoming more institutionalized as local governments try to figure out ways to raise revenue. The Denver council will hold a public hearing and take a final vote Monday. Only a day later, on Tuesday, a California Assembly panel is expected to vote on a bill that would legalize pot across the state. MORE

LOS ANGELES TIMES: There are about 120 Starbucks coffee outlets within the Los Angeles city limits. According to the most reliable estimates, there are somewhere between 900 and 1,000 medical marijuana dispensaries. Mull over the implications of that comparison and you’re on the way to understanding why the City Council seems enmeshed in an endless wrangle over how to regulate the number and sites of the nonprofit cooperatives allowed by local ordinance to distribute cannabis to individuals with doctors’ prescriptions. So far, it’s been a debate whose observers could be forgiven for wondering whether they’d entered the council through a looking glass. All that’s missing is the Hookah-smoking Caterpillar. Last week, for example, the lawmakers — who are scheduled to take another cut at an ordinance today — voted to cap the number of dispensaries at 70, though the 186 establishments that registered with the city after a poorly drafted 2007 “moratorium” on new medicalmarijuanathumbnail.jpgdispensaries was ruled illegal will be allowed to stay open. Got that? The number is “capped” at 70, but 186 will be allowed to operate.  Today, the council again will take on the vexing question of whether to increase the distance between dispensaries and schools, parks, churches and private residences. The real reason the City Council is having such a hellish time coming to grips with this issue is that this is one of those areas where social attitudes and thinking simply have moved beyond conventional legal thinking or, for that matter, the permissible language of politics. Medical marijuana was, from the start, a back door to legalization, and now it’s swung wide open. If we really believed cannabis was a normative medical remedy, it would be sold in pharmacies like everything else your doctor prescribes. Instead, the council is trying to regulate it in just the way we control bars or liquor stores or any other vendor of recreational intoxicants, while paying lip service to the really rather limited medicinal necessities. MORE

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