Election

Colorado Springs Rejected Retail Pot, but Other Towns Didn't

Colorado voters approved recreational marijuana ten years ago, and the plant still finds a way into elections.
Colorado voters approved recreational marijuana ten years ago, and the plant still finds a way into elections. Thomas Mitchell
Marijuana questions were on the ballots of ten Colorado towns and counties on November 8.

While voters in unincorporated Jefferson County and Colorado Springs rejected measures that would have allowed recreational pot sales, two small towns near Colorado Springs approved recreational marijuana sales, and a proposal to allow recreational sales in Grand Lake is currently too close to call. Voters in unincorporated Jefferson County, however, voted against allowing marijuana

In addition to initiatives regarding the sale of recreational marijuana, other measures focused on establishing or raising marijuana taxes. Lamar, a small town in southeastern Colorado, contemplated not just prohibiting pot shops, but punishing people involved with marijuana.

Here are the towns that had pot-related measures on their ballots, and the current status:

Palmer Lake
Voters in this town went in the other direction from residents of Colorado Springs, fewer than thirty minutes to the south; they approved an ordinance that will allow up to two already-existing medical marijuana establishments to offer recreational sales. Conveniently, there are just two operating medical dispensaries in Palmer Lake, according to the state Marijuana Enforcement Division.

Grand Lake
A popular destination in Grand County for summer holidays and year-round outdoor recreation, Grand Lake is the site of a marijuana election too close to call. A measure that would allow marijuana businesses to operate in Grand Lake and force the Town Board of Trustees to craft local marijuana industry regulations is currently ahead by just one vote, according to unofficial results.

A separate ballot question proposing a 15 percent sales tax on recreational marijuana is further ahead, while another question that would create a 15 percent sales tax on medical marijuana is down by nine votes. According to the language of the measure proposing commercial marijuana, permitting such businesses is "subject to and expressly contingent upon" taxation approval, but the language doesn't specify whether both tax measures must pass.

Cripple Creek
An old mining town near the base of Pike's Peak, Cripple Creek has become known for casinos over the past three decades — and soon could be known as a cannabis destination.  A ballot question proposing allowing marijuana facilities within Cripple Creek was approved by almost 15 percentage points, according to unofficial results. An accompanying measure proposing excise and sales taxes on medical and recreational marijuana was only ahead by four votes early November 9, though; if the tax measure doesn't pass, then no pot businesses can enter Cripple Creek, according to the language of the ballot measure.

Lamar
Lamar was poised to become one of the few marijuana outposts in southwestern Colorado when voters approved commercial marijuana sales in 2021, but a judge threw out that vote earlier this year after a ruling that the initiative had an inaccurate number of petition signatures.

Marijuana proponents scored a win in the latest election, but they were on the defensive this time. Ballot Question 300 proposed banning any marijuana businesses from opening in Lamar, and also would have penalized anyone of age who "possesses, displays, purchases, transports, transfers, stores, warehouses, cultivates, sells or distributes to another, more than one ounce of marijuana for personal use," as well as prohibiting anyone under the age of 21 from the same actions. If it had passed, the measure would have conflicted with Colorado laws regarding personal marijuana possession, cultivation and medical marijuana patient rights.

Jefferson County
The only marijuana-related ballot question on a county level, Ballot Issue 1B would have opened unincorporated Jefferson County up to commercial marijuana production as well as medical and recreational pot sales. However, the measure is currently losing by an 18,000-plus margin, according to unofficial results, and is considered dead.

Nederland
A funky little town near Boulder known for its Frozen Dead Guy Days celebration (sadly, it won't be back in 2023), Nederland has allowed recreational marijuana sales since they became legal in January 2014. Nederland's four recreational dispensaries will soon have to charge higher sales taxes, however, as voters approved a measure that will increase recreational pot sales taxes by 5 percent. The increase is expected to generate around $160,000 per year, according to city estimates.

Hotchkiss
A town of fewer than 10,000 people in Delta County, Hotchkiss could soon welcome medical and recreational dispensaries. Question 2A, proposing medical and recreational pot sales, was leading by a 15 percent margin, according to unofficial results. If it's approved, dispensary sales can begin as early as July 2023. There was no accompanying tax resolution on the ballot.

Sugar City
Sugar City is a statutory town in Crowley County with a population of fewer than 300, but it's become home to several marijuana growers of late. According to unofficial results, a ballot question proposing a 5 percent increase in marijuana business taxes was rejected, 75 to 58. The measure would also have allowed Sugar City to retain any excess tax revenue collected over local limitations.

Dove Creek
Although fewer than 800 people live there, Dove Creek is the biggest town in Dolores County — and it looks like Dolores County residents will have to keep waiting for marijuana stores. A ballot proposal that would have allowed medical and recreational marijuana businesses in Dove Creek was defeated, 215 votes to 152. A measure that would have created sales taxes for retail marijuana was also rejected by Dove Creek voters.
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Thomas Mitchell has written about all things cannabis for Westword since 2014, covering sports, real estate and general news along the way for publications such as the Arizona Republic, Inman and Fox Sports. He's currently the cannabis editor for westword.com.
Contact: Thomas Mitchell

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