COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - While Colorado Springs city leaders continue to oppose recreational marijuana sales, the City Council considered whether to expand hours for existing medical marijuana dispensaries.
During a Monday afternoon work session, the council discussed whether to amend an existing ordinance requiring dispensaries to open no earlier than 8 a.m. and close no later than 7 p.m.
The proposed amendment would establish a later closing time of 9 p.m.
The proposal was recommended by the city's Marijuana Task Force after recent discussions found the current 7 p.m. closing time is among the earliest in the state.
Only Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Pueblo County and Commerce City have a 7 p.m. closing time.
Across the state, 12 other municipalities close between 8 p.m. and midnight.
Jason Warf, executive director of the Southern Colorado Cannabis Council, said he supports the proposal and believes most medical marijuana dispensary owners will, too.
"Longer hours are better for patient access," he said. "It would benefit dispensary owners, but later hours may create staffing issues and safety concerns."
Staffing is a major consideration for Elisa Kappelmann, owner of Southern Colorado Medical Marijuana, one of the first dispensaries to open in the city.
"Paying employees is the most expensive part of the business," she said. "If the hours expand to 9 p.m., I'd have to hire two people and I can't afford that right now, even though business is good."
Councilman David Geislinger said after consulting with police, he learned that burglaries and theft from dispensaries generally happen after hours when dispensaries are closed.
"Police say there are few problems while the businesses are open," he said. "If police are willing to go along with a later closing time, it sounds OK to me."
The council's first reading and vote on the issue is in two weeks. Passage normally requires a second reading and vote.
Officials said El Paso County may be willing to change the hours of its four dispensaries, to close at 9 p.m. instead midnight, to be consistent with city dispensaries.
Among other matters, the council received an update on repairs of the band shell at Bancroft Park, which was damaged by a fire in January.
Repairs on the structure are complete and it will be used for a high school homecoming event on Sept. 22.
Plans call for the park to officially reopen next spring after a major redesign is completed.