Why Are There No Dispensaries in Estes Park? (6 Reasons)

Pep Dekker

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In 2012, Amendment 64 was approved in Colorado, which legalized marijuana possession for adults. 

Under this amendment, Adults over the age of 21 were allowed to have up to 1 oz of marijuana on their person and grow up to six marijuana plants privately. 

After a regulatory structure had been set in place for the retail of Marijuana, dispensaries were permitted to open for business in 2014. 

However, local governments reserved the right to overrule Amendment 64 within their area of legislation. 

Estes Park is a town within which this overruling was enacted, meaning that no marijuana-selling businesses have been allowed to operate within town limits since 2014. 

In 2019, an ordinance was proposed to lift the town-wide ban on dispensaries, but it failed to come to fruition with a 68% vote for ‘no.’ 

While there was a fairly vocal opposition, it was the majority who made their voice heard. In this article, we’ll take a look at the 6 main reasons why Estes Park decided to prohibit dispensaries! 

6 Reasons Why Estes Park Does Not Allow Dispensaries

There are several reasons why a town may want to prohibit the sale of marijuana to its residents and travelers who may be visiting the area.

Weed in hand

Here are six reasons why Estes Park decided to say no to dispensaries:

1. Local regulations

While many other towns in Colorado went through with allowing medical and recreational dispensaries to open up in 2014, Estes Park made the decision not to do the same. 

This regulation was enacted by the local government. However, in 2019 when the ordinance to lift the ban on dispensaries was put to the public, they also overwhelmingly voted in favor of maintaining the ban on dispensaries – showing that the local sentiment was steadfast in using multiple regulatory avenues.

2. Concerns about public health

Marijuana is considered to subject its users to poor health outcomes in the long run in regard to factors such as dependence issues and mental health complications. 

There is also the significant concern that in enabling dispensaries to operate, the increased exposure of children to marijuana will make it easier for them to get their hands on the substance. 

Research has shown that marijuana can have negative impacts on younger people’s ability to build connections for functions such as memory, attention, and learning, as well as the risks of dependence and mental health problems that are associated with marihuana for people of all ages. 

It was stated by the group Estes Park Citizens Opposed to Legal Marijuana Outlets (who were significant donors to the opposition of the ordinance) that “Estes Park residents chose protecting their community and children over the almighty dollar.

3. Estes Park is a family-friendly destination

Known as the gateway to the world-famous Rocky Mountain National Park, the local government and residents of Estes Park voted to keep their town dispensary-free to maintain a family-friendly image.

The decision was also made to account for any concerns other visitors may have surrounding the use and sale of marijuana.

4. Community preferences

As mentioned above, a very vocal outfit in opposition to the 2019 ordinance to lift the ban on dispensaries was the Estes Park Citizens Opposed to Legal Marijuana Outlets. 

This group represented the majority in the end, who voted to keep the ban in place.

The minority that voted for lifting the ban on dispensaries in Estes Park argued that even though dispensaries were prohibited in Estes Park, they weren’t in many other towns on the way in – meaning lots of visitors brought marijuana products into Estes Park anyway. 

The argument that letting other towns profit on Estes Park’s visitors (the sale of marijuana is regulated and taxed in these locations) was a common one made to counter those of the citizens who opposed lifting the ban. 

The arguments about the risk to children’s health that dispensaries posed were also countered by the argument that the revenue raised by the sale of marijuana would go towards youth and public health programs, such as mental health services and anti-bullying initiatives.

5. Zoning restrictions

Estes Park’s decision to prohibit marijuana within their town’s borders doesn’t affect dispensaries in other towns nearby. 

Some people will argue that this means neighboring towns will be able to capitalize on Estes Park’s visitors. 

Others, however, provide the counter-argument that Amendment 64’s leniency in allowing for local governments to alter their own legislation as they see fit is a perfectly reasonable one, and exactly how legislation regarding a controversial topic such as the sale of marijuana should be handled.

6. Public safety concerns

There is a certain conception of marijuana as being a dangerous substance, with the potential to illicit irresponsible and foolish behavior in people. 

In a town that brings in millions of tourists a year, this type of behavior was perceived to put residents and visitors alike at risk and therefore played a large role in the prohibition of dispensaries in Estes Park.


Thanks to Amendment 64, there are now sound, logical reasons why towns may want to let dispensaries operate within their borders. 

There are also some extremely valid reasons why a town might be opposed to this. 

In the case of Estes Park, the negatives outweigh the positives for a number of different reasons, such as upholding its reputation as a family-friendly destination and the ever-present issues surrounding the health of individuals and the safety of communities. 

Only time will tell if Estes Park chooses to reevaluate their stance on allowing dispensaries to operate within their town –but if recent history is anything to go by, that may not happen for quite some time!


  • Pep Dekker

    Hey. I’m Pep, Paige's husband, and dad to Juliana, Lucille and Maxine. I'm founder and writer here at EstesPark.com. I've been living full-time in Estes Park for 3 years now and been visting the Estes Valley for 8. I'm a seasoned traveller, and all around expert on all things Estes Park, Colorado and I'm excited to share all that I've learned with you.