|Photo by Chalmers Butterfield/Wikimedia Commons.|
|The Springs has changed since this photo, but cannabis attitudes have stayed the same.|
Colorado’s second-largest city will not be allowing retail recreational marijuana sales, opting instead to ban the industry outright as is allowed under Colorado’s Amendment 64.
The city joins a growing list of about two dozen cities and counties around the Centennial State with cannabis business bans.
City council passed the ban with a 5-4 vote at a meeting yesterday, despite the sizable number of people who have testified in favor of allowing cannabis businesses over the last few weeks. Of course, even if it would have passed through council, Mayor Steve Bach who says he would have vetoed the measure anyway. He said that allowing marijuana would be a “job killer” for the city.
According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, the decision shocked about 50 cannabis business supporters on hand. “I hope you’re happy,” one of them yelled as they stormed out.
“To see two at-large council members throw the vote of the community under the bus, I’m disappointed and angry,” Mark Slaugh, a local cannabis-related business owner and former Southern Colorado regional coordinator for the Amendment 64 campaign, told the Gazette. “It means we maintain the status quo, which hasn’t been the greatest image from the outside looking in.”
The Gazette also reports that the swing vote wasn’t Don Knight as we earlier reported, but instead it was Val Snider who previously had remained mum on his position. He said he couldn’t bring himself to allow the sales of a substance still deemed illegal by the federal government.
But the threat of a negative financial impact if the city were to allow cannabis certainly had to have played into their decision. Recently heads of nearby military installations have said that retail marijuana sales and Amendment 64 in general could play heavily into staffing decisions. The bases are already huge economic boons for Colorado communities with millions spent by stationed servicemen each year.
Not everyone bought those arguments, though. Councilwomen Jan Martin and Jill Gaebler said that retail marijuana shops would only boost the economy of Colorado Springs by creating more jobs and generating tax revenue from sales.
“We want to bring economic development to this city – we can do that by having a vibrant downtown,” Gaebler told council, according to the Gazette. “The younger generation has a vision of what the city should look like. We can do something different and special.”
Activists aren’t letting this go lightly, however. After the meeting, several began talking about putting together a citizen referendum – noting that both El Paso County (where Colorado Springs is located) and Colorado Springs both passed Amendment 64 (albeit very narrowly).
“We’ll have to go back to the voters again — and we feel we’re gaining more and more momentum on this issue. I think we’ll have a good opportunity to overturn this horrible mistake they’ve made,” Slaugh tells our sister blog over at Denver Westword. “We’re running on a very hot issue. The whole world is watching us, and while it isn’t an even-numbered election year, we are going to be voting on marijuana taxes, which have polled with very strong support, and we’re also coming off multiple jurisdictions in Colorado deciding one way or another on bans or opting in. So the issue is still alive, and I think if the messaging and targeting speaks to the next generation, we should be able to rally people to the polls this November.”