LivWell is standing up for growers in Pueblo County.
Voters in that county are facing Ballot Question 200: “Shall the Pueblo County Code be amended by Ordinance to prohibit all licensed Retail (recreational) Marijuana Establishments in all areas under the licensing jurisdiction of Pueblo County, by requiring all existing Retail Marijuana Testing Facilities, Retail Marijuana Cultivation Facilities, Retail Marijuana Product Manufacturing Facilities, and Retail Marijuana Stores to close by October 31, 2017 and by immediately prohibiting Pueblo County from approving all new licenses for these facilities?”
If the proposal passes next week, it would effectively stop the marijuana industry that's brought an economic boom to Pueblo County. And even though LivWell doesn't have any retail shops in Pueblo, the homegrown cannabis company is one of the top five financial backers working to defeat 200.
LivWell has donated $25,000 to the campaign, according to Neal Levine, LivWell's senior vice president of government affairs, who's also a member of the anti-200 campaign leadership team. "As a company policy, we believe that a threat against the industry anywhere in Colorado is a threat to the industry everywhere in Colorado," Levine says.
Pueblo County's retail marijuana industry created 1,308 jobs and brought in over $2.5 million in taxes for the county last year, according to the Southern Colorado Growers Association. Since under Amendment 64 anyone over the age of twenty would still be allowed to legally grow and consume their own marijuana, all the passage of 200 would do is eliminate jobs, Levine says.
"It just doesn't make sense," he adds. "The whole point of Amendment 64 is to shrink and actually eliminate the criminal market. People can grow their own in Pueblo County. All you're doing is eliminating their jobs...and creating a space for the criminal market to enter back in."
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That's a big concern of Jim Parco, one of the leaders of the "No on 200" movement. Parco and his wife own Pueblo's Mesa Organics, which grows all of its marijuana on site. "If 200 were to pass, it's not like [marijuana] will just go away," he says. "It'll get rid of the jobs, the tax revenue, and I think it would open up the black market again." .
In addition to supporting the "No on 200" movement in Pueblo with monetary and political backing, LivWell CEO John Lord is taking his company's support a step further. LivWell generally grows its own marijuana, but in solidarity with Pueblo's growers, the company is also selling cannabis grown by Los Suenos Farms, one of the largest grows in Pueblo County.
In a release, Lord says that “200 is another deceptive effort in an increasingly long line of deceptive efforts to roll back Amendment 64 piece by piece. We expect the entire industry to continue to step up and fight these threats wherever and whenever they pop up.”