COLORADO SPRINGS — Colorado legalized the recreational sales of marijuana in 2012, but today, Colorado Springs remains one of the cities across the state to only allow the sale of medical marijuana.
Now, the battle over whether to legalize recreational sale in the city has returned, as the proposal has landed back on the November ballot.
“Recreational cannabis is already here,” says Anthony Carson, a member of Your Choice Colorado Springs.
The campaign acquired enough signatures to place two questions on the November ballot.
The first question would allow 115 existing medical marijuana stores to transition into recreational sales.
“Voters in this community are more eager to be able to finally have their voices heard,” Carson says.
The second question would place a 5% tax on marijuana sales to expand Post Traumatic Stress Disorder programs, enhance mental health services and funnel money into public safety.
“Right now we are forfeiting those sales to Manitou Springs, Pueblo and Denver,” Carson explained.
Those in favor of recreational sales argue the city has lost $150 million in potential tax revenue.
Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers said the campaign mirrors unkept promises the marijuana industry made in 2012 that tax revenues would fix schools, fix roads and cut back on youth access.
“The negatives have far outweighed the positives,” Mayor Suthers said. “When I talk to the superintendents of most of our school districts, they say what marijuana has brought us is more marijuana in the school,” Mayor Suthers said.
Still, Carson argued, “this is about personal responsibility and freedom at its core.”
Mayor Suthers said, if community members want to see what recreational marijuana sales will bring to Colorado Springs just look north.
“Denver is somewhat of a cautionary tale. They had to close Civic Center Park, the stench of marijuana was just overwhelming,” Mayor Suthers said.
FOX21 also reached out to El Paso County Democratic Party member and State House candidate Stephanie Vigil who said, “The war on drugs has been a colossal failure. Banning a substance does not make it go away, but instead eliminates our ability to regulate it and manage any associated risks.”
Vigil said a majority of voters in El Paso County voted to legalize recreational marijuana, but “this right” has been delayed by local government, which “is not responsive to the will of the people.”