Nearly two years after denying a retail marijuana license for NuVue Pharma LLC, the Cortez City Council on Tuesday approved the store’s request to open.
The approval came after months of litigation, a local judge’s order that remanded the matter to the City Council and a lengthy discussion Tuesday night about whether the proposed dispensary met distance requirements set by the city and state. Ultimately, the council determined NuVue met the necessary conditions and should be able to open.
The approval was 6-0. Councilor Sue Betts recused herself because of a connection to a NuVue attorney.
NuVue Pharma LLC, based in Pueblo, applied to open a marijuana dispensary in Cortez in summer 2018, looking to set up shop at 503 Patton St., across U.S. Highway 160 near Denny Lake.
Initially, the city determined that the dispensary met distance requirements set by the city and state, and the company’s owner, Dr. Malik Hasan, passed a background check. By law, marijuana shops must be at least 1,500 feet from a school, day care center or dispensary.
Several residents opposed the dispensary in letters to the city and at a public hearing on Sept. 11, 2018. Some said Cortez already had too many marijuana shops.
At that hearing, the council unanimously voted to deny the license, later saying their rationale for denial had to do with neighborhood concerns, and that most other marijuana dispensaries are in more commercial areas of town.
In November 2018, NuVue Pharma filed a complaint for judicial review, alleging that the council exercised “arbitrary and capricious abuse of discretion” in its denial. NuVue also claimed that opponents of the motion didn’t live close enough to the proposed location to be directly affected and that the concerns were ungrounded.
And after about a year of litigation, the court agreed