Adult-use cannabis is already legal in Colorado Springs—the Centennial State’s second largest city of roughly half a million people—but city council members still don’t want retail operations a decade after legalization.
In a symbolic stance against a pair of ballot questions that will go before voters this November, Colorado Springs City Council members voted, 6-3, during their Oct. 11 meeting to pass a resolution that opposes the ballot measures.
That resolution, in part, states that “City Council is gravely concerned about the dangers of allowing retail marijuana by expanding access within the City of Colorado Springs and strongly encourages greater awareness regarding the harms and dangers of marijuana use.”
Regardless, voters will still have their say in just a few weeks.
Question 300 would amend the city’s ordinances to authorize adult-use cannabis retail establishments in the same manner as medical cannabis, as well as authorize already existing medical operators in the city to be licensed for an expanded market.
Question 301 would attach a 5% local tax to adult-use cannabis sales, which would fund public safety programs, mental health services and post-traumatic stress disorder programs for veterans.
A complete description of the measures is available on the Colorado Springs government website.
The citizen initiative ordinances were certified after advocacy group Your Choice Colorado collected the required 98,000 signatures to appear on the ballot. The group campaigned on the lost tax dollars going to retail operations in neighboring cities Denver, Pueblo and Manitou Springs.
Since Colorado first launched adult-use sales in 2014—following voters’ passage of Amendment 64 in 2012—the state’s licensed retailers have sold more than $13 billion of cannabis, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue.
Anthony Carlson, the campaign manager for Your Choice Colorado, told KOAA News 5 that the city council’s vote this week to oppose the measures—which are already approved for the ballot—wasn’t time well spent, and the resolution was along the lines of “reefer madness.”
“There’s a lot of more important things our city council can be taking on to make sure we’re taking care of the challenges of this city, rather than wasting time today talking about an initiative that’s in the past,” Carlson said.
The board’s resolution opposing the ballot measures claimed that adult-use legalization is “destroying the health and social fabric of Colorado,” and has negatively impacted all aspects of people’s daily lives, from traffic fatalities to public health services and underage use.
“The City of Colorado Springs known as Olympic City USA is consistently ranked as one of the best places to live in the United States,” the resolution states. “The legalization of retail marijuana may jeopardize not only our national reputation as such a desirable place to live but also our tourism industry and economy.”
According to the resolution, passing the ballot measures would open the door for 114 adult-use dispensaries to be licensed within the city’s limits. Meanwhile, the two dispensaries in nearby Manitou Springs and eight dispensaries in Pueblo have “easily been meeting the needs of the residents who are seeking retail marijuana in El Paso County.”