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No pot on West Colfax

Opponents of a business that sought to open a recreational marijuana business on West Colfax Ave. scored a victory last week, when the application for the prospective business was rejected by the city.

On March 12, Stacie Loucks, director of excise and licenses for the City and County of Denver, rejected the application submitted earlier this year by Cannabis for Health, a corporation that hoped to open a retail marijuana storefront at 4801 West Colfax, the former site of the well-known Pig ‘N Whistle restaurant and motel.

During a public hearing held in January, the Pig ‘N Whistle idea was opposed by a wide range of neighborhood organizations, businesses and individuals, including Jewish organizations located in the area surrounding the proposed business.

Opponents to the business included such local parties as a police commander, drug rehabilitation facility, homeless shelter and a neighborhood organization. The West Side Jewish community was represented by Congregation Zera Abraham, Yeshiva Toras Chaim and the Denver Community Kollel, according to a Jan. 26 summary of the hearing prepared by the city’s Dept. of Excise and Licenses.

Those opposing Cannabis for Health cited fears of traffic hazards and increased crime, harmful influence on women and children in the neighborhood and negative impacts on business development along Colfax.

They also contended that the proposed business would violate rules governing the proximity of marijuana businesses to schools or childcare facilities, an issue of special concern to Jewish opponents, who not only operate schools but a variety of children-oriented programs near the proposed business.

Loucks apparently took such concerns seriously, writing in her final decision that the presence of a legal marijuana storefront at the proposed location could “adversely impact the health, welfare or public safety of the neighborhood.”

She noted that such a business stood a chance of adversely affecting particularly vulnerable people who reside in the area — families and children in crisis who live in a homeless shelter, as well as people suffering from drug addiction who reside or are frequently present in a nearby rehabilitation facility.

Loucks referred indirectly to one of the Jewish institutions that is less than 1,000 feet from the proposed business — Zera Abraham — that, while not technically classifiable as a school, nonetheless frequently has children on its campus who are no less vulnerable than children attending a formal school.

While noting that charting the impact of a marijuana business on a neighborhood is based, to some degree, on speculation, the director felt that the risk to Zera Abraham children, as well as other people in the area, was sufficient to warrant rejection of the application.

“It is a fact that the above mentioned facilities do exist,” Loucks wrote, “and are in very close proximity to [the] proposed marijuana store. It is a fact that these facilities are extremely similar in nature to the types of facilities that the law prohibits retail marijuana stores from locating within one thousand feet of.

“It is very probable that a retail marijuana store will have the same adverse impact on these extremely similar facilities as they would on the prohibited facilities.”

Loucks added that her conclusion was based not on supposition, “but rather a logical and rational determination based on the facts.”

Chris Leppek may be reached at

Copyright © 2015 by the Intermountain Jewish News

Chris Leppek

IJN Assistant Editor |

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