Colorado Springs Opts Out of Recreational Marijuana Sales

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2min 56sec
Tally shows which council members voted for the ban on recreational marijuana sales, and who didn't.
Tally shows which council members voted for the ban on recreational marijuana sales, and who didn't.

Colorado Springs City Council voted yesterday to opt-out of recreational marijuana sales after listening to public comments and a plea from Mayor Steve Bach to opt-out. Bach called it a jobs killer, and cited concerns from the military.  Bach also said it’s important to take a regional approach, mentioning other communities who have opted out of recreational marijuana sales like El Paso County, Monument, and Green Mountain Falls.  If council decided not to opt-out, they would have voted on a moratorium.  But Bach pressed for the ban.

To me, a moratorium is kicking the can down the road. I don’t know what more you can know in 6-12 months that you don’t know today, except about potential revenue.  There are times when revenue generation is secondary to the well-being of the community, and this is one of them.

The public comment period lasted around two hours.  Concerns ranged from the affect on youth, to military issues.  Brian Burnett of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs said there are other federal implications, like funding for research and financial aid.  Burnett also said over 14% of their student body last year were military veterans and military dependents.

That’s a significant piece of who we serve, and it’s who we were built to serve when we were founded in 1965. But anything that would put those military bases, that are so critical to this economy at risk, it doesn’t matter how many extra jobs that we might get from this new industry, you can’t forget the base. And right now, the base for this community at 40% is the defense industry.

But Judith Negley, who identified herself as a parent and grandparent, and an owner of a cannabis related business, spoke more about the disenfranchising of voters.

The real damage that is being done to the children of this country is instilling a profound degree of cynicism regarding the democratic process.

When it came time for city council members to discuss the issue, Councilwoman Jan Martin, who voted against the ban, said she cannot imagine making a decision against the voters of Colorado and the city.  Martin said the city has a chance to be a leader.

Someone made the statement that they’re not saying this is a panacea, but at least we’re trying something new.  And isn’t there truth in that.

But councilman Andy Pico said the threat of federal implications on the military is real, and his vote does reflect the will of his constituency.

The precincts within my district, only four out of 20 voted for Amendment 64, and that’s a pretty significant thing.  So I will absolutely will respect the vote the people in district 6 and ensure their voice is heard in this discussion. 

The vote was close, 5 to 4, with Councilors Val Snider, Joel Miller, Don Knight, Merv Bennett, and Andy Pico voting to opt-out of recreational marijuana sales.  Council President Keith King, and council members Helen Collins, Jill Gaebler, and Jan Martin voted against the ban.