A decade after Colorado made history and legalized recreational cannabis, the state’s second largest city may be ready to get in on the action. For years, Colorado Springs has blocked adult-use cannabis sales within its jurisdiction. Last week, organizers of a campaign that seeks to end that prohibition officially hit the ground running.
The group “Your Choice Colorado Springs” said last week that it had “completed the title setting process with the City,” meaning that it can now start rounding up signatures to get its proposal on the city’s ballot this November.
If it qualifies, voters in Colorado Springs will get to decide on whether or not adult-use cannabis sales should be permitted in the city.
“The citizens of Colorado’s second-largest city finally have it within their power to direct taxes from recreational cannabis sales back to their hometown, rather than to cities like Denver and Manitou Springs,” Anthony Carlson, campaign manager for “Your Choice Colorado Springs,” said, as quoted by the Denver Gazette. “In the coming weeks and months, Your Choice campaign team and volunteers will fan out across the city, seeking signatures from Colorado Springs voters who would like to make sure our hard-earned tax dollars are staying at home serving our community.”
The group announced its intentions in January, saying that Colorado Springs has missed out on precious tax revenue from would-be cannabis customers who buy weed in other cities like Denver.
The state of Colorado legalized recreational cannabis for adults aged 21 and older in 2012; according to the Colorado Springs Indy, a “majority of city residents approved recreational sales in 2012, but elected officials have refused to allow recreational pot sales within the city, often citing the presence of numerous military bases here.”
Westword has more context on the situation.
“Colorado Springs allows around 120 medical marijuana dispensaries to operate within city limits, but the Colorado Springs City Council banned recreational pot sales in 2013, the year after Coloradans legalized recreational marijuana and the year before retail dispensaries opened. Multiple attempts to get the council to approve recreational sales in the city have failed since then, so Your Choice Colorado Springs is now going the election route,” the website reported.
Your Choice Colorado Springs estimates that the city has lost roughly $150,000,000 in revenue over the last 10 years due to the ban, saying that “every year 10 to 15 million dollars of tax revenue that can improve our quality of life is lost to Denver, Manitou Springs, and Pueblo.”
The group’s proposal “would allow only current medical dispensaries to apply for recreational sales permits, in order to comply with the city’s licensing cap; there would be no new stores,” according to Westword, noting that the campaign has “has ninety days to collect around 33,000 signatures” in order to qualify for the ballot.
John Suthers, the mayor of Colorado Springs, reiterated his opposition to allowing recreational pot dispensaries in the city after the group launched its campaign in January. “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,” Suthers said in a statement at the time, as quoted by Colorado Newsline. “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.”