At first glance, the concentration of Denver's marijuana facilities in the city's poorer neighborhoods is startling, as shown in a revealing graphic appearing in The Sunday Denver Post.
As reporters David Migoya and Ricardo Baca noted, such facilities have sprouted in large numbers in neighborhoods such as "Elyria Swansea, Globeville and Northeast Park Hill in north Denver, and Overland to the south," as well as along the Interstate 25 and Santa Fe Drive corridors.
No wonder some community leaders and politicians are expressing concern.
Even so, a major factor in this concentration is that more than half of the marijuana licenses in Denver — 329, to be precise — are for growing marijuana, and cultivation is generally done in the industrial-type warehouses found in these districts.
There are also 85 marijuana manufacturing facilities in Denver. Not surprisingly, most of them have taken up residence in the same general areas.
Actual pot stores, both medical and retail, are more widely dispersed — including in some neighborhoods that have few to none of the other facilities.
It may be the city should discourage the location of additional marijuana cultivation and manufacturing facilities in areas already populated with them, but it's hardly surprising the existing ones congregated where they did. It was inevitable, and it was foreseen. And officials can't rewrite the rules and apply them retroactively to existing businesses.
Not foreseen, by contrast, was the way medical pot establishments would continue to dominate the sales landscape two years after retail stores opened in 2014.
There are 133 locations in Denver with both medical and retail licenses, 69 medical-only stores, and a mere nine retail-only outlets. Obviously, many medical-pot buyers (with plenty of exceptions, we hasten to add) are gaming the system in order to avoid the higher taxes on retail marijuana.
Mayor Michael Hancock's administration has proposed freezing the number of medical marijuana outlets in Denver, which is wise. But the more difficult challenge, as the Post story makes clear, is how to handle potential growth in the cultivation and manufacturing sectors.
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