Colorado's Second Biggest City Bans Pot Shops

Video via The GazetteVideo via The GazetteThis week Colorado Springs became the biggest city in Colorado to ban the state-licensed marijuana stores that are scheduled to start opening in January. By a 5-to-4 vote, the Colorado Springs City Council decided on Tuesday to join other nearby jurisdictions, including El Paso County, Monument, and Fountain, in just saying no to cannabis retailers, as local governments are authorized to do under Amendment 64, the ballot initiative that legalized marijuana in Colorado. It will remain legal for residents of the city to possess up to an ounce, grow up to six plants at home, and share up to an ounce at a time "without remuneration."

About two dozen local governments in Colorado have voted against pot stores so far. With a population of more than 400,000, Colorado Springs is the state's second biggest city. The biggest, with a population of more than 600,000, is Denver, where the city council last month overwhelmingly voted to regulate pot stores rather than ban them. Two-thirds of Denver residents voted for Amendment 64. The vote in El Paso County, which includes Colorado Springs, was much closer. Still, the fact that Amendment 64 attracted majority support in the famously conservative county, which is home to Focus on the Family and the U.S. Air Force Academy, was pretty remarkable. "We won El Paso County, which is insane," says Mason Tvert, co-director of the Yes on 64 campaign. "We won it by 10 votes, but if we lost by 5,000 I would still tout it as unbelievable."

The close city council vote reflected the closely divided electorate. The Colorado Springs Gazette reports that "members of the Regional Business Alliance, retired military generals, school superintendents, leaders from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and representatives from the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau" all urged the council to ban recreational marijuana shops. The councilman who provided the fifth vote against cannabusinesses, Val Snider, said he was worried about the conflict between state and federal law, although the city already allows the sale of marijuana for medical use, which is equally illegal under the Controlled Substances Act. He also argued that over-the-counter marijuana sales would "send the wrong message" to local teenagers. Mayor Steve Bach, who had threatened to veto any bill allowing pot stores to open in the city, said commercial distribution of marijuana for general use would be bad for business. To the contrary, said the council members on the other side, the tax revenue from pot sales would help make the city more attractive to business. Although I wish the vote had gone the other way, the fact that city councils are having this sort of eye-glazing debate about marijuana surely counts as progress by itself.

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  • Monkey's Uncle||

    I voted for 64 and live in El Paso County. This news is disappointing, but not surprising. One note to the author - there is no Monument County. Did you mean Douglas County?

  • Jacob Sullum||

    Thanks. That should have been the city of Monument. I've fixed it.

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    What about Manitou Springs? I think that's where all the hippies that can't stand CS go. Are the shops banned there too?

  • Firework Surprise||

    They are not banned in Manitou. The drive is only about 15 minutes from the Colorado Springs city center. I am going to enjoy watching Manitou become a marijuana juggernaut.

  • ||

    "Become"? Clearly you've never hung out near the Mate Factor/Common Ground corner.

  • ||

    Shame. I used to live in Monument.

    Of course, Palmer Lake is two miles up the road... They ain't known for their conservatism.

  • Demosthenes||

    Isn't Aurora bigger than the Springs?

  • MiloMinderbinder||

    Dan's Bake Sale?

  • The Late P Brooks||

    He also argued that over-the-counter marijuana sales would "send the wrong message" to local teenagers.

    Self-ownership is scary.

  • R C Dean||

    How is "You can't buy this until you are an adult" the wrong message to send to teenagers?

  • Paul.||

    I much prefer the, "You can't buy this until you're a member of the public sector" a much more sound message.

  • Jack the Reaper||

    Didn't we as voters in Colorado already send the message that it is ok for adults to do this? Why did we vote for legal sales? Fuck you, that's why.

  • Paul.||

    If I read it correctly, the provision allowed (this is what happens when you compromise between good and evil: only evil can profit) municipalities to ban dispensaries.

    It's like the mj-legalization crowd learned nothing.

  • Monkey's Uncle||

    2012 Population Estimates have Aurora at 339,030 and the Springs at 431,834

  • kinnath||

    Well, this undermines the justification for visiting my sister on my next vacation.

  • Jack the Reaper||

    I think when this all shakes out, there will be plenty of places to buy. Not every city in Colorado is run by pinheads.

    And there is a lot of land that is unincorporated. Just drive a mile down the road to just outside of city limits to the local shop.

  • Swiss Servator - past LTC(ret)||

    "cannabusinesses"

    "the fact that city councils are having this sort of eye-glazing debate about marijuana"

    You did things. There. And I saw them.

  • ||

    No surprise there. Colorado Springs is the home of the Family Research Council (IIRC) and other uber-Christian organizations.
    It's a military city built around Cheyenne Mt. and assoicated defense contractors.

  • Monkey's Uncle||

    While there are those elements present in the area, the political landscape is more diverse than you might think.

  • ||

    Are you talking about Colorado Springs specifically, or all of Colorado?

  • Monkey's Uncle||

    The Springs area specifically. At least that has been my experience since 1996.

  • Paul.||

    I always thought of Co Springs as a liberal enclave, a bit like Austin, TX? Am I wrong about that?

  • Ken Shultz||

    Also, just because a town is liberal doesn't mean the cops are.

    I remember not so long ago hearing that the cops in Boulder had threatened to make everyone participating in the Naked Pumpkin Run register as a sex offender.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Isn't that where the Air Force academy is?

    I'd always though that was the part of Colorado that's more like Alabama.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Thirty five years ago, if you talked to "liberals" you would have thought the high command at Fort Carson had imposed a military tribunal and martial law on Colorado Springs.

  • Loki||

    It will remain legal for residents of the city to possess up to an ounce, grow up to six plants at home, and share up to an ounce at a time "without remuneration."

    The question is, will the Colorado Springs PD recognize this and refrain from arresting or at least harassing people who legally posess or grow MJ for their own personal use.

    And as Ron Burgandy might say, "Go fuck yourself, Colorado Springs."

  • Paul.||

    Y'all thought this was gonna be easy?

  • gaoxiaen||

    There are some places in the US where you have to drive farther to buy alcohol.

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