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Glenwood Chamber survey: Mixed bag on budding pot industry

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – A recent survey conducted by the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association asked downtown store owners their thoughts on amending the city’s current zoning code. In light of the recent increased interest of the medical marijuana dispensaries in town, the results illustrated a mixed bag of opinions.

The 12-question survey asked 105 downtown business owners their opinions regarding the mix of business downtown, but focused mostly on the newly introduced medical marijuana industry.

Seven of the 12 questions addressed medical marijuana establishments specifically. Answers were on a 10-point scale ranging from “most agree” to “most disagree.”

When asked if current establishments should be allowed to remain at their current locations, unless specific problems were identified, 28 percent of the 105 respondents disagreed, while 26 percent agreed that the establishments should be allowed to remain at their current location.

Of downtown business owners who responded, 41 percent disagreed that medical marijuana establishments are a “compatible use” with other business activities and purposes downtown.

Of respondents, 25 percent were impartial when asked about “specific restrictions” that would make medical marijuana establishments more compatible with the downtown core. Another 25 percent did not agree with that statement, while only 9 percent agreed that specific restrictions on those businesses would be appropriate.

According to Chamber Resort Association President and CEO Marianne Virgili, the survey showed downtown businesses are split on how to deal with the budding industry. “I thought the opinions were very diverse, it wasn’t an overwhelming response against the new industry at all,” she said.

Virgili said also that there were some concerns about the “first impression” tourists get when arriving in town, and regarding the proximity of some of the dispensaries to schools. “Those were the two big things that stood out,” she said.

When asked if there was any place that was “wholly inappropriate” for a dispensary to operate near, 52 percent of respondents said near schools, while 28 percent said near public places such as parks would be inappropriate. However, 29 percent disagreed that a dispensary near a public space or park was inappropriate.

Of respondents, 43 percent disagreed that a hospital would be an inappropriate place for an establishment. While 30 percent supported establishments in the downtown area, 18 percent who said medical marijuana establishments were inappropriate in downtown.

The survey was developed after several chamber board members heard concerns from some downtown businesses. Virgili said that the survey addressed the overall retail mix for the downtown area, and was not specifically focused on the medical marijuana industry alone.

“The board wanted to take a broader look and did not feel that the questions be only about medical marijuana, but also about the retail mix,” Virgili said. “And what was the best mix for downtown.”

However, it was not the responses, but the high number of responses that surprised Virgili.

“I was more surprised, not with the responses, I was more surprised at the interest in the survey,” Virgili said.

Virgili said the chamber plans to give the results of the study to state Rep. Kathleen Curry to illustrate the opinion of business owners in Glenwood Springs, in hopes that it will give state legislators some direction on the issue of regulating the industry.

“Kathleen Curry has asked for input on the local level, as they look at this at a legislative level,” Virgili said. “So, we will submit the results to her.”

jgardner@postindependent.com


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