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Colorado city welcomes marijuana industry with 4 licenses to operate in city limits

City council votes to allow recreational use of marijuana shops for first time in Brighton
City council votes to allow recreational use of marijuana shops for first time in Brighton 02:21

One Colorado community is budding with excitement as the city of Brighton moves to allow marijuana sales for the first time since its legalization in the state.

"I think there is somewhat of a pent-up demand," said Brighton City Manager Michael Martinez. "We're kind of the furthest point northeast, and we don't have a lot of dispensaries within our area, so I do think that it's going to be something that generates a lot of interest."

Brighton is one of the last communities in the region to move towards marijuana sales, but Martinez says that time has given the city a chance to learn more about the industry and reduce some of the stigma behind it.

Marijuana Small Towns
In this Friday, Dec.18, 2015, Associated Press file photo, LivWell store manager Carlyssa Scanlon shows off some of the products available. David Zalubowski / AP

"I think that there has been hesitation as to whether or not marijuana would increase crime, whether or not kids would have more access to it. I think looking back now through data, that isn't necessarily true," said Martinez. "I don't think the crime impact is as necessarily prevalent as maybe it was perceived to be."

The city will start with four dispensary licenses, but Martinez says that could increase in the future and they continue to grow with the industry. These dispensaries will only be able to operate in certain parts outside the core retail areas of Brighton, and two dispensaries will be reserved for social equity licensees.

"It's important because it allows folks who don't necessarily have the same type of capital as a lot of the other marijuana companies do to invest in marijuana within the state of Colorado within Brighton," said Martinez.

Martinez says they estimate each dispensary will generate roughly $250,000 in tax revenue each year.

"The increased tax revenue is important. As we know things are getting more expensive. Cities aren't immune to that, so the more tax revenue that we can generate for our residents, the better services we can provide," he said.

One service that may benefit from marijuana sales as dispensaries come online is expanding the city's police force.

"As marijuana starts to become a tax-generating revenue maker for the city of Brighton, I expect a lot of that to go towards public safety," said Martinez.

The application period for these dispensary licenses doesn't officially begin until March 1, but the city has already received a ton of demand from interested businesses.

Brighton city leaders say if any existing buildings within the allowed zones can be retrofitted to serve as dispensaries, marijuana businesses could start to pop up as early as this fall.

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