There are plenty of retailers in Colorado Springs that sell marijuana-themed merchandise but you can’t buy marijuana products at all in the city. Colorado Springs has five military bases, and is known for being very conservative. It’s the second-largest city in the state and some want to reverse the ban.
Seeing how much money other cities are bringing in from marijuana tax revenues has Colorado Springs feeling a bit jealous, Los Angeles Times reports. The ban went into effect in 2013. Surrounding cities, like Denver, quickly embraced the new industry and raced to get regulations in place.
Denver took in roughly $24 million in tax revenues with Aurora closely behind at $16 million. The funds in Aurora have been used to fund projects benefitting the homeless. Denver used some of its tax dollars to build a new recreation center. The state took in almost $200-million in tax revenue in 2016.
Manitou Springs has seen a revitalization itself – thanks to recreational marijuana tax revenue. Taxes there are providing for new bike paths, lighting and decorative sidewalks. Other major improvements were able to be finished too.
Farley McDonough of the Manitou Springs Urban Renewal Authority said, “It’s brought new life to this town. In many ways, it’s good Colorado Springs does not have sales.”
Marcy Morrison, who did not support recreational marijuana legalization in 2012, said, “I thought it was terrible. But really this has been a learning experience. Legal pot has helped the city.”
Richard Skorman, President of the Colorado Springs City Council said, “People are going all over this state to buy marijuana and it’s outrageous.”
Skorman is frustrated. He calls it “sales tax leakage”. He’s working with Citizens for Safer Neighborhoods on legislation to reverse the ban in Colorado Springs. They need 20,000 signatures from registered voters by the summer. If enough signatures are gathered, voters could have an initiative on this November’s ballot.
The group commissioned a University of Denver professor to do an economic study to create an estimate of how much the city could stand to gain from reversing the ban — $20-million in taxes is what the professor estimates. Those funds could help hire more law enforcement officers and repair roads.
If the medical marijuana dispensaries chose to sell recreational marijuana, they’d have to pay a $7,500 licensing fee each. With 356 medical marijuana licensed medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado Springs, the licensing fees alone could raise as much as $2.6-million for the city.
Tom Scudder of Safer Neighborhoods said, “Not having legal sales here is wrecking my business and hurting this community.”
They have a little roadblock to conquer though – Mayor John Suthers, Colorado’s former attorney general.
He said, “I may well be behind the times, some have called me a ‘drug war dinosaur,’ but I remain absolutely convinced it’s terrible public policy. People should not be getting high for fun. … We’re creating a generation of young marijuana users who will go on to become lifelong drug abusers.”
Residents would like to see recreational sales allowed so that the streets’ potholes can be fixed.