The Cortez City Council has denied a proposed new marijuana store after numerous citizens spoke up against it.
NuVu Pharma planned to build a retail marijuana store at 501 Patton St. on the east end of town. The company has a store in Pueblo, said vice president Paul Lyons, and had hoped to expand into the Cortez-area market.
NuVu planned to build a facility on the vacant lot. Lyons and his attorney, Kelly McCabe, said the proposal complies with state and city licenses and regulations, is in a commercial zone and meets distance requirements from schools and other marijuana shops.
But the application was denied by the council in a 7-0 vote earlier this week.
Cortez Mayor Karen Sheek said she had concerns with the location because of nearby residences.
“We had six letters from people who live in this area that are concerned with a marijuana store in their neighborhood, and that weighs heavily for me,” she said.
During public comment before the decision, 11 people spoke against another marijuana shop in town and use of cannabis in general. One person spoke in favor of the company’s proposal.
Duane Cook said he was concerned about the increasing number of marijuana shops in Southwest Colorado, and urged the council “to use restraint and pass on this one.”
A resident said it would be too close to the GOAL Academy, but Cortez City Council Attorney Mike Green said that is an office location and does not meet the definition of a school under the regulations. NuVu’s proposed location met the 1,500-foot distance requirement from Southwest Open School and Trinity Lutheran, officials said.
One woman mentioned that Cortez has five retail marijuana stores and asked whether the city had a cap.
Sheek said zoning and distance requirements for marijuana stores are limiting factors for how many can ultimately be in town.
A supporter of NuVu stated the company is “extremely professional and will add a touch of class” to the local marijuana retail market.
Kathleen Tarr said she opposes another marijuana shop and added that she moved to Cortez from California to get away from issues caused by drugs.
“It brings problems,” she said.
Charlotte Jones also opposes marijuana stores. She said she believes legalization of the drug has led to an increase in homelessness.
A local youth pastor advised against approving the application because he believes marijuana is a “gateway drug” leading to use of more serious drugs that has caused overdoses in the community.
“Our youths end up with addictions that kill them,” he said.
Another man worried about the impacts to children from secondhand smoke when “parents get high.”