Just over three months after Maggie's Farm opened its doors as the first recreational pot shop in Manitou Springs and began dumping money into town coffers, voters gave the business a thumbs-up, overwhelmingly defeating a proposal to ban recreational pot sales in the town.
The question before voters in Manitou Springs was whether to ban recreational sales and shut down one of the largest tax contributors to Manitou Springs's meager budget or not. The small but vocal group of anti-pot citizens who brought the measure to the ballot were rejected by a 64-36 percent margin despite claiming wide support for their cause.
Colorado Springs officials have dragged their heels on whether to allow recreational marijuana, leaving the city filled with medical shops but devoid of any storefront where your average pot user can grab a bag of weed. But at least Springs stoners have been able to drive west up the canyon to Manitou Springs, where Maggie's Farm recreational has been slinging bags of herb since July 31, when it became the first -- and so far only -- recreational pot shop in all of El Paso County.
Even as Maggie's Farm was opening, some residents were collecting the 450 signatures needed to get a proposed ban on recreational sales before voters. Supporters of the ban argued that marijuana use and cannabis-related incidents have increased substantially in Manitou Springs-area schools over the past year; they also say legal pot is hurting tourism.
Proponents of recreational cannabis point out that more than two-thirds of the voters in Manitou Springs supported Amendment 64. Any fears of ruining tourism are unfounded, they say, noting that the town has gained jobs and substantial tax revenue from marijuana.
Between July 31 and October 7, Maggie's Farm paid the town $223,122 in taxes. According to the Colorado Springs Independent, Manitou Springs could collect as much as $1.3 million in tax revenue this year if the shop's sales continue at the same pace. In a town with an $11.3 million budget, that's an increase of 10 percent. And Maggie's Farm isn't the only shop in town, either. Reserve 1 has a medical location in Manitou Springs and has the ability to transition to a recreational cannabis shop thanks to the ban's failure. Reserve 1's owners say they've been waiting until after the November 4 vote to make any changes.
So were city officials: Mayor Marc Snyder said Manitou Springs wasn't factoring any additional recreational pot tax revenue into next year's budget just in case the ban won.
While Manitou Springs residents saw a cannabis victory, voters in Palmer Lake and Ramah -- both in El Paso County -- rejected measures allowing pot shops in their towns. Across the state, voters in Ouray and Lakewood shot down recreational pot sales. Measures in both communities failed to get more than 44 percent support.
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