A man smokes licenced medicinal marijuana prior to participating in the annual Hemp Parade, or “Hanfparade,” in support of the legalization of marijuana in Germany on August 7, 2010, in Berlin, Germany. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
A group of Colorado Springs residents filed a petition on Monday to put the sale of marijuana on this year’s ballot.
Colorado Springs has lost out on tens of millions of tax dollars annually because the city’s residents buy recreational marijuana in Manitou Springs, Denver and Pueblo, according to a Monday statement from the group that filed the petition.
“Recreational marijuana is 100% legal for every single adult living in the city. Yet the city gets none of the benefits,” Cliff Black, an attorney and the lead elector petitioning the city for recreational marijuana sales, said in the statement. “Instead, residents drive and spend their hard-earned money in Manitou, Pueblo, and even Denver, and then bring their marijuana right back home to Colorado Springs. With this initiative, we are asking voters if they want to keep their tax dollars local.”
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While recreational marijuana has been legal in Colorado since 2012, it is against the law for dispensaries to sell recreational marijuana in Colorado Springs. Licensed medical dispensaries are allowed to sell medical marijuana to registered medical marijuana patients. Manitou Springs is currently the only municipality in El Paso County that allows recreational marijuana sales. According to the group’s statement, the two dispensaries in Manitou Springs are the most profitable recreational marijuana stores in the state, which the group says is due to lack of competition and an abundance of local demand.
Your Choice Colorado Springs, the group that filed the petition, includes Karlie Van Arnam, who ran for Colorado Springs City Council last year.
“When Colorado began adult-use sales of cannabis in 2014, we anticipated that our local officials would respect the will of the voters and craft a regulatory structure allowing recreational sales,” Van Arnam said in the statement. “But instead, year after year, politicians have declined to provide a regulatory structure to collect precious tax revenue for our city.”
Van Arnam is the general manager of a medical marijuana company, according to an article last year by The Gazette.
John Suthers, the mayor of Colorado Springs, is opposed to recreational dispensaries in the city.
“The petitioners would be asking to allow all 120 medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado Springs to become recreational dispensaries. Despite the many promises made in the initial Amendment 64, marijuana revenues have not successfully funded schools, and, instead, revenues have been largely used by the incredibly high cost of regulation and enforcement, including illegal grows and illegal exportation of marijuana,” according to a statement emailed to Newsline, attributed to Suthers. “Further, the lack of a THC limit in Colorado has resulted in recreational marijuana having such a high THC potency that it is having severe adverse health impacts on its users, particularly younger people.”
If the initiative were to make it to the ballot and pass, people who buy recreational marijuana in Colorado Springs will pay the city a 5% tax, in addition to any other tax imposed, according to the ballot language filed.
The revenue will support public safety programs, mental health services and post-traumatic stress disorder treatment programs for veterans.
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