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In seeking to usher Denver into a new era of recreational marijuana sales, Mayor Michael Hancock has called for restrictions that critics say would give existing owners of medical marijuana a monopoly on the new frontier.

Others say Hancock is being reasonable by proposing a two-year phase-in period that allows only businesses that sell medical marijuana to apply for licenses to sell recreational marijuana to people 21 or older. They say the measured rollout would ensure a responsible transition into a market that remains illegal in the eyes of the federal government.

This battle is likely to be waged for months in the city after the state adopts its rules for recreational marijuana.

Mac Clouse, a professor of finance at DU, said the phase-in period obviously is unfair to newcomers but is understandable because of the marijuana debate.

“Just the fact that they have taken something illegal and made it legal, it is unusual,” he said. “There are so many unanswered questions that many of the cities haven’t had time to look at. He is buying time.”