Colorado Springs Won't Put Recreational Marijuana Sales on November Ballot

Colorado Springs Won't Put Recreational Marijuana Sales on November Ballot
Lindsey Bartlett
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Colorado Springs is likely to go another year without allowing recreational marijuana dispensaries within the city, after the Colorado Springs City Council declined to put a question on the November ballot regarding whether retail sales should be allowed.

Although the medical marijuana industry has been going strong in Colorado Springs for over a decade, the recreational sector has remained prohibited since the first stores opened in Colorado in 2014. Several efforts to legalize rec sales had failed before the more recent push to get them on the ballot; city council members shot down the proposal during a work session on July 27.

Opposed by Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers (a former Colorado attorney general) and local law enforcement agencies, recreational sales also face the major obstacle of a large federal and military presence in Colorado Springs. Suthers has claimed that recreational pot shops could even hurt the city's chances of retaining the headquarters for the United States Space Command.

But former U.S. Air Force economics professor Neal Rappaport, an economist working for pro-marijuana industry organization Together for Colorado Springs, calls that a weak defense, noting that military bases already exist in cities with recreational marijuana, such as San Diego. According to Rappaport, an 8 percent sales tax on recreational pot would collect more than $72 million in tax revenue in five years for Colorado Springs, a number he's shared with city council members.

However, the town's medical marijuana industry also took issue with the recent proposal to allow retail sales, which called for 24 recreational sales licenses; nearly 120 medical dispensaries are currently open in Colorado Springs.

A recreational marijuana sales question could still appear on the Colorado Springs ballot in November if proponents collect enough signatures to satisfy local petition requirements; so far, no effort to do so has been announced.

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