Voters in Colorado Springs may finally get to bring adult-use cannabis stores to the Centennial State's second largest city.
A petition, which requires 100,000 signatures to put the question on the ballot, has nearly reached its goal. According to the petitioning group, Your Choice Colorado Springs, the city is losing $150 million per year in tax revenue from regulated cannabis sales, KRDO reported.
While Colorado may be famous for being the first state to sell legal recreational weed, its second largest city still doesn't host even a single licensed adult-use shop. The law that legalized recreational weed, Amendment 64, gave municipalities the right to "opt out" of recreational operations.
However, Colorado Springs has been an odd case since that first recreational sale took place on January 1, 2014. The city is home to nearly half a million people, which is just 200,000 shy of Denver's population at around 760,000 people. Colorado Springs also sits between Denver and Pueblo — two cities with booming economies, thanks to legal pot — along the I-25 cooridor, and it's the only city along the interstate that doesn't permit legal weed sales.
Colorado Springs has been an outlier with more than just recreational stores, too. In 2019, the city banned "pure" CBD products at medical cannabis dispensaries, claiming that all CBD products must also contain THC in order to qualify for medical sales.
The city also banned the use of alcohol extraction for producing cannabis oils, arguing that alcohol extractions posed a fire hazard. The city did not ban alcohol's use in cooking or kitchens though, which is basically the same damn thing.
Additionally, a few years after the state went legal, Colorado Springs enacted a moratorium on its cannabis consumption clubs, effectively banning the establishments despite granting consumption licenses to these same businesses just a few years prior.
Why is Colorado Springs like this? First, the ban on legal pot shops largely comes from the city's mayor, John Suthers, who's never been a friend of cannabis. Suthers was Colorado's Attorney General while the state campaigned to legalize weed in 2012, and he opposed the law every step of the way.
During city council meetings, conservative council members have stressed that they want to maintain Colorado Springs's "family-friendly" atmosphere. Cannabis activists have pointed out that there are liquor stores and bars on practically every block in Colorado Springs, many of which are near schools.
Furthermore, for all practical purposes, the people of Colorado Springs can purchase legal weed in nearby Manitou Springs. Manitou Springs shares a western border with Colorado Springs, and for anyone with a car, Manitou is, at most, a 30-minute drive.
City council will argue that the existence of two licensed pot shops in Manitou Springs should suffice for Colorado Springs. But activists have pointed out that Manitou Springs collects all of the sales taxes from Colorado Springs residents, and Colorado Springs gets to use none of that revenue on roads, schools, etc.
This is also not the first time activists have tried to get licensed adult-use shops in Colorado Springs. Previous attempts to get it done through the city council have failed every time. If the question to permit pot shops makes it onto the November ballot, it would be the first time the city's voters get to settle the question once and for all.
If you live in the Colorado Springs area, you can sign the petition by clicking here.