|Cannabicare owners Jeffrey and Julie Sveinsson donated $1,000 to the El Paso County, Colorado Sheriff’s Department this week.|
The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office this week accepted a $1,000 donation from a Colorado Springs medical marijuana dispensary, but one county commissioner claims the donation is improper.
“I didn’t want to be part of a perceived conflict of interest, since the sheriff oversees those businesses,” said Peggy Littleton on Tuesday after voting against the donation at a commission meeting, reports Debbie Kelley at The Colorado Springs Gazette.
But Commissioners Amy Lathen, Sallie Clark and Darryl Glenn didn’t have a problem with the donation, and on a 3-1 vote, Sheriff Terry Maketa’s office got the money. The funds will help offset the cost of an annual employee recognition banquet he held recently, according to the sheriff.
|El Paso County Sheriff’s Office|
|Sheriff Terry Maketa: “Do we say we don’t agree with a business so we’re not taking that either?”|
While Commission Chairwoman Amy Lathen voted for the donation, she said she understood why the issue raised eyebrows. “This is an unusual thing for a business like this to contribute to the law enforcement agency,” she said.
“The question is what would be the motivation,” Sheriff Maketa said at the meeting. “I know his motivation: He said he appreciates our deputies and he wanted to do something for our office.”
Like other donations from small business owners, this check was issued from the personal bank account of the donors, Jeffrey and Julie Sveinsson, according to Sheriff Maketa, and not from Jeffrey’s dispensary, Cannabicare. The medical marijuana shop opened about eight months ago off Marksheffel Road.
“It is unusual, but this is a legitimate business right now,” Maketa said. The sheriff said his office has received donations from owners of alcohol-related businesses, which have similar licensing and regulation schemes at the county level.
Various programs in his department, including Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) and the canine enforcement unit, routinely receive donations from individuals, according to the sheriff.
Rejecting the dispensary donation “has the potential to bring about the question, do you not accept the sales tax from that product?” Sheriff Maketa said. “Do we say we don’t agree with a business so we’re not taking that either? Where do we draw the line?”
In a letter to the sheriff accompanying the check, Sveinsson wrote that he wanted to thank the department for patrolling the neighborhood around his dispensary.
“The sheriff’s department has come out to our building on several occasions due to false alarms when we were getting used to the system, and they were quick, cordial and respectful,” Sveinsson told the Gazette on Tuesday after the meeting.
“I didn’t do anything untoward in giving to the sheriff’s department,” Sveinsson said. “We intend to give back to various charities.”