Denver and Colorado Springs aren't going to be confused as twins anytime soon. Colorado's two largest cities have some glaring differences in political leanings and landscapes, and legal cannabis is definitely one of them.
Nearly five years after Colorado voters decided to legalize recreational cannabis, Colorado Springs has yet to allow any retail pot businesses within city limits (although there is an effort to change that in 2018). Denver, on the other hand, has the largest number of recreational dispensaries and cultivations in the state, and the count isn't even close.
It's not like Colorado Springs is completely anti-cannabis, though: Over 130 medical marijuana dispensary licenses have been issued in the city, according to the state Marijuana Enforcement Division. Meanwhile, Denver has seen many of its dispensary owners forgo their medical licenses in favor of going all recreational, or at least adding a recreational side. As a result, recreational heavyweight brands in Denver and along the Front Range don't have a very large footprint in medical-only Colorado Springs. While LivWell and Native Roots have several outposts in that city, El Paso County is still predominantly mom-and-pop stores and chains specific to southern Colorado, such as Canna Caregivers and Maggie's Farm.
Despite the differences between the two cities, residents of Denver and Colorado Springs share many similarities when it comes to cannabis consumption, according to a new study by Consumer Research Around Cannabis, a research firm that conducts over 100,000 surveys a year on consumer trends. That study found that in both Denver and Colorado Springs, a majority of the residents are in favor of legal pot, and the breakdown by political affiliation is very similar in the two cities.
"The two regions reflect each other almost identically when looked at through a political lens," CRAC Vice President Jeff Stein writes in the study. "In both areas, nearly 75 percent of liberals, about 60 percent of independents, and roughly 35 percent of conservatives approve of legal usage.”
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Although the majority of Colorado Springs liberals and independents support pot legalization, barely over a third of the city's conservative population agrees. That low approval rating could hurt any recreational legalization effort in Colorado Springs, as nearly 40 percent of its residents consider themselves conservative, the report shows.
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The big differences CRAC found were users' reasons for consuming cannabis: Denver residents offered many more reasons for consuming cannabis. However, the ranking order is still similar, Stein notes: The top four reasons for using cannabis — help sleep, chronic pain, mental health issues and relaxation — were the same in both regions.
In Colorado Springs, socializing seems to be more popular relative to other reasons; having a good time with friends and family was just outside the top five in that city.