Marijuana is legal to purchase in small quantities in Colorado, but because an option was put into the constitutional Amendment 64 — which technically legalized the drug — for cities and towns to opt out, citizens have found that in many cities there currently is not a legal way to purchase non-medical marijuana.
Interestingly, although voters supported the legalized purchase of marijuana in their state, the thought now seems to be it’s okay as long as it’s not in my neighborhood. Even the residents who seem to like the idea are not sure they want to deal with the ramifications of their decision and how it may affect their families and communities.
So how are the communities and towns responding? At least 51 municipal councils have voted to prohibit marijuana-selling stores with more than 20 enacting some kind of moratorium to buy more time, this according to the Colorado Municipal League, which is currently tracking the actions of towns and cities.
What about Colorado Springs?
Colorado Springs is the state’s second largest city. It allows the use of medical marijuana but recently decided in a narrow vote that they did not want stores to cultivate, manufacture or test marijuana.
The argument for the majority to vote against the proposal seems to have been that the city could lose “tens of millions dollars, in either military or tourism” which council members did not believe would be offset by recreational marijuana use and its potential tax revenue.
According to Don Knight, a councilman, “The input of $3.9 million that recreational marijuana would have given us, compared to the loss of tens of millions dollars, in either military or tourism, just didn’t provide a balance sheet to me,” he said.
Knight claims that retaining military bases and units is critical to the city. Right now Colorado Springs has various military assets such as Fort Carson, the Air Force Academy, Peterson Air Force Base and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). Knight claims other cities, who may be competing for future military resources, could use the fact that Colorado Springs allowed recreational marijuana use as a reason for the federal government to move their military resources elsewhere.
What about other cities?
Other cities, such as Pueblo, seem to have less concern about the deleterious effects of recreational marijuana use and are instead focusing on working on regulations and fees for the business of selling marijuana to adults. Pueblo County Commissioner Liane “Buffie” McFadyen says he is “following the will of the people” and is focusing more on the benefit of the potential revenue stream.
Many claim that even if specific cities have opted out it will not be difficult for most citizens in the state to buy marijuana. They could simply drive to an area that does sell marijuana. Revenue for recreational marijuana is expected to be worth an estimated $600 million.
What about the state of Washington?
The state of Washington does not allow cities to opt out of the sale of recreational marijuana so they are unlikely to see as much opposition in more conservative areas of the state.
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