Local businesses concerned about impacts of marijuana businesses in Fort Lupton

Steve Smith
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Mike and Amy Mericle own an RV business on Factory Circle in Fort Lupton.

They’re worried about the potential impacts of two of their new neighbors, who happen to be two of four marijuana companies hoping to get licenses from the city.

At a Fort Lupton City Council town hall meeting on March 29, Mike Mericle warned the council of “a lot of unforeseen trouble,” problems he’s seen on trips to downtown Denver.

“Going downtown is scary,” he said. “I’m not going unless it’s a (Colorado) Avalanche (hockey) game. You’re always looking over your shoulder. It’s the smell. And it’s all about marijuana.”

Mericle cited statistics on rising hospitalizations, drunk driving cases and fatal car crashes in which victims tested positive for cannabis.

“What are you ready to do?” he asked the council. “Look at the number of police officers we will need. Getting a new officer on patrol. How much will it cost? I don’t want the kids to feel that. Those are some of the concerns for me. It’s up to you to understand how to handle these concerns.”

His wife, Amy, followed.

“You can’t deny the repercussions,” she told the council. “To have two of the four permit holders on the same block and across from us? There’s a park by the river, and there’s a homeless population there. There’s already drug use here. I would like to know what you have in place to mitigate some of these risks.”

Mayor Zo Stieber said council and city staff – including planning department officials and the police department – have spent “countless hours” over the past year working on this issue. .

“I was on a panel with someone who said that because of good retail opportunities, they’ve seen a decrease in crime,” she said. “Sometimes you have bad actors. Our requirements are such that we will protect you. That’s why we kept it (the number of commercial licenses) at four.”

“Two of them are on the same block,” Amy Mericle said. “It seems excessive if you try to manage it,” she told the council.

“We don’t have a guideline to increase that number,” Stieber replied. “WE are just getting our feet wet.”

Mike Mericle told the board, “I don’t want to be in your shoes right now.”

“In five to 10 years there will be a lot of repercussions,” he said. “We’ll be there to support you, not to say, ‘We told you so’, and to try to take care of these people who are suffering from addiction.”

“We don’t want anything bad to happen,” Councilman Carlos Barron said. “We are also part of the community.”