Commercial Weed Bud Grown on Plant Under Warehouse Lights marijuana pot cannabis

A tie vote killed an Aurora measure that would have allowed new businesses where patrons could legally consume marijuana.

With Mayor Mike Coffman stepping in to create the 5-5 tie Monday, the City Council vote effectively killed the measure, but under city rules, it could resurface later.

Opponents on Monday warned hospitality businesses would increase the number of impaired drivers. Councilman Dave Gruber argued that adequate police enforcement targeting drivers under the influence of marijuana is still being developed.

“I’m concerned that we’re in the learning phase about marijuana,” Gruber said. “It’s not the same as alcohol because we have rock-solid legal guidance on alcohol, and we don’t have that on marijuana.”

Aurora police officer Brooke Mourey told the council field sobriety tests are designed to detect impairment, including for marijuana. But while police can use Breathalyzers to sniff out drunken drivers, the department lacks roadside testing equipment for marijuana, she said.

Councilwoman Alison Coombs battled back.

“We’re not proposing shutting down all bars, even though that’s what’s resulting in the DUIs throughout our city,” Coombs said. “We have seen the existing (marijuana) businesses be successful, not result in increases in crime and not harm our city.”

Coombs argued increased tax revenue from the marijuana businesses could bolster homeless services and youth violence prevention programs.

Gruber, Coffman, Marsha Berzins, Françoise Bergan and Angela Lawson opposed the measure. Coombs, Juan Marcano, Allison Hiltz, Curtis Gardner and Crystal Murillo supported it.

Lawson argued Aurora already has too much on its plate to deal with new businesses offering on-premises marijuana consumption, saying "we barely have the resources to deal with those issues.”

If passed, the proposal would have permitted 24 of the hospitality businesses including some which would offer marijuana sales. The proposal required state and local licenses.

For the first five years, "social equity" applicants would have been guaranteed at least half of the licenses granted for the hospitality business with a 50% discount on associated city business fees.

Neighboring Denver approved marijuana hospitality businesses in April. Denver's Department of Excise and Licenses expects to open an application process for those businesses in November.

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