Marijuana Businesses Should Be Banned in Pueblo County, New Petition Says

Pueblo County's welcoming attitude toward marijuana businesses could flip if a recently filed petition to ban marijuana business gains November ballot status and voter approval.

Filed last week by Pueblo attorney Dan Oldenburg and tree-company owner Kenny Gierhart, the petition calls for a ban on issuing licenses to new marijuana businesses by November 8 and the closure of any pot business in Pueblo County by November 2017. This includes marijuana product manufacturers and testing  facilities, but not industrial-hemp businesses.

The Pueblo County Board of Commissioners, which has praised the legal marijuana industry's creation of jobs and tax dollars for the local economy,  has issued a statement to the media condemning the petition as a step backward for the community.

"This latest ballot initiative would close retail marijuana establishments, not prohibit the consumption of marijuana. If passed, Pueblo residents would be forced to purchase from the black market for a legal product," the statement reads.

According to the Board of Commissioners, $20 million of Colorado's $1 billion-plus marijuana sales in 2015 occurred in Pueblo County, and commercial building expenditures on marijuana-related projects accounted for a total of $14,677,477.

“I’m saddened that a vocal minority is willing to tear apart our community when the voters of Pueblo have already spoken loud and clear. The result will be the same…again… except the community will be divided unnecessarily for the next seven months," Pueblo County Commissioner Sal Pace said in a prepared statement. "The folks running the measure need to explain to the hundreds of people working in Pueblo’s cannabis, construction and real-estate industries how they will put food on the table if this measure is successful."

Anti-marijuana educational group Pueblo for Positive Impact says it is "tired of the bullying tactics" of marijuana advocates and hopes Pueblo County voters will repeal the "pot propaganda" brought on by retail marijuana. 

"Interviewing only marijuana users is not a snapshot of public opinion. It's a one-sided perspective we've been bombarded with for over two years. The citizens of Pueblo County will have their say, not in the newspaper — but at the ballot box. Nothing unfair about that," the group wrote on its Facebook page.

Marijuana generated $1.63 million of net revenue for Pueblo County in 2015. Last week's statement from the Board of Commissioners says another $3.5 million is anticipated annually from the excise tax.

The petition is currently under review by the Pueblo County Clerk's Office. Pueblo County Clerk and Recorder Gilbert Ortiz told KOAA News 5 that there is a five-day period for the petitioner and county officials to change the wording  before the petition is certified for circulation.

Marijuana businesses are banned in the City of Pueblo, but the county has embraced cultivation centers, dispensaries and infused-product makers since the passage of Amendment 64, which 55.6 percent of Pueblo County residents voted in favor of in 2012.

Keep reading to learn about upcoming marijuana events: 

The Women's Cannabis Chamber of Commerce will continue its series of Entrepreneur Boot Camp classes with a course on social media and online marketing today, Monday, April 4, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. For $89, attendees will learn how to use social media and online marketing to effectively boost the profile of a cannabis business. Class location will be shared upon registration and includes a light dinner.

David Schmader, writer and former editor of Seattle's The Stranger, will present and sign his new book, Weed: The User's Guide: A 21st Century Handbook for Enjoying Marijuana, on Monday, April 4, at 7 p.m. at the Tattered Cover LoDo. Described as a "hugely informative, completely hilarious, and desperately necessary guide to marijuana" by author and media personality Dan Savage, the book will be available for purchase for $18.95.

From 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 6, Councilman Albus Brooks will host a District 9 marijuana town hall at Bruce Randolph School, 3955 Steele Street. Panelists include at-large council rep Robin Kniech; Ashley Kolroy, executive director of marijuana policy for the city; and Stacie Louks, executive director of the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses.

The Holistic Cannabis Summit — a free webinar on the medical effects of marijuana — will be held through Thursday, April 7. Starting at 9 a.m. each day, experts, patients and advocates from the marijuana community will present research and opinions while answering questions. Registration is free and includes access to fifteen published reports and guides on cannabis use. 

Women Grow will host a networking event on Thursday, April 7, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Highland City Club in Boulder. Attendees will meet other entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry while enjoying refreshments and a keynote address from Women Grow's Jane West. Early-bird tickets are $25.

This month's edition of the IMPACT Network's cannabis discussions will take place on Saturday, April 9, from 12:30 to 4 p.m. at Center Mass Media (853 Santa Fe Drive) and will focus on cannabinoid deficiency diseases. There will be a panel of experts available for a panel discussion and Q&A sessions. All ages are welcome, and tickets are $22.

Colorado edibles company Wana Brands will host its first Wana Gathering — an event that "supports and showcases local Colorado art and music, celebrates all sorts of passions that enhance life, and raises money for community organizations," on Sunday, April 10, from 2 to 10 p.m. at the Larimer Lounge. On top of merchandise giveaways throughout the day, the party will include live music and DJs, barbecue, and a raffle to win glass pieces from Buddha's & Goudha's, with proceeds benefiting medical research.

Know of an event that should be in the Cannabis Calendar? Send it to [email protected]
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
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
Contact: Thomas Mitchell