Colorado marijuana
A grow light shines through the leaves of a cannabis plant at a grow facility in Denver. (Seth McConnell, The Denver Post)

The City Council signed off Monday night on Mayor Michael Hancock's plan to buttress marijuana enforcement staffing using new tax proceeds.

The $3.4 million plan will add 21 full-time employees and a part-time worker — all geared toward keeping up with the need for building, fire, health and food safety inspections and other marijuana regulation work.

Some money will go to departments handling licensing, lab testing and police investigations, and some will go toward public-outreach campaigns.

The council approved the measure 11-0 in a block vote on all bills, with no discussion on the marijuana spending plan.

City officials waited until after legal recreational sales began Jan. 1 to put together the proposal. They kept tabs on the first several months of new tax collections and sized up the new industry's impact on city resources.

The money will come from $5 million of projected proceeds this year from the city's new voter-enacted 3.5 percent cannabis sales tax, plus Denver's share of a 10 percent state special retail marijuana tax.

Hancock's advisers have said the plan will keep the new challenges of enforcing state and local pot regulations from hurting other city responsibilities.

Among the details:


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• Overall, nearly $1.8 million will be spent on business regulations and neighborhood safety efforts; $825,700 on law enforcement and public safety; and $746,000 on youth/public education.

• The Office of Children's Affairs gets the largest chunk, $500,000, for local media buys to expand the reach of a planned state youth education campaign discouraging illegal use of pot by people younger than 21.

• The fire department will get $476,400 to hire three inspectors and support staffers. The police department will get $410,100 to pay for a detective and a sergeant to investigate excise and license cases, plus a new forensic scientist to analyze samples from large grow-house seizures.

• The city attorney's office will get $415,600 to hire an assistant director to be an expert on marijuana-related legal issues and an assistant city attorney to handle pot-related lawsuits, plus support staffers.

The new workers' jobs will last 2½ years initially, with another review planned to update marijuana-regulation needs.

Jon Murray: 303-954-1405, jmurray@denverpost.com or twitter.com/JonMurray