El Paso County Commission joins Colorado Springs City Council in opposing recreational marijuana

David Zalubowski/AP Photo
In this April 20, 2018 file photo, an attendee celebrates at 4:20 p.m. by lighting up marijuana during the Mile High 420 Festival in Denver. New research has found some Colorado teenagers who use marijuana are shifting away from smoking it in favor of edible products.

El Paso County Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution this week opposing ballot questions in Colorado Springs and Palmer Lake that, if approved, would legalize recreational marijuana. 

Commissioners largely focused on the potential long-term effects of the drug, saying it would only increase mental health concerns in the county and make marijuana more accessible to children.

Commissioner Cami Bremer said it was important for the county to weigh in on municipal ballot issues because, "at the end of the day, what happens in those jurisdictions, impacts the county."

"We are the ones that are providing the criminal justice and human services and social services that often will go along with an increased need with recreational marijuana use," Bremer said.

Commissioner Stan VanderWerf represents District 3, which includes Palmer Lake. He said he was grateful that the state allowed localities to choose whether or not to allow recreational marijuana when it was legalized in 2012.

"We just simply don't need it," he said. "All of the advocacy points that people make are just simply not there."

Colorado Springs ballot Question 300 would allow the city’s existing 114 medical marijuana businesses to apply to also sell recreational cannabis to residents. A moratorium on any new dispensaries would remain in place, as passed by city council in 2017.

An accompanying ballot question, 301, deals with taxing cannabis products if both measures pass. It requires the city to use tax money generated from recreational marijuana sales “solely for the purpose of funding public safety programs, mental health services, and post-traumatic stress disorder treatment programs for veterans.”

The ballot initiatives in Palmer Lake are similar - if voters approve Question 2D, the town's two existing medical marijuana dispensaries would be allowed to sell recreational marijuana. The other measure, 2C, would allow a property tax mill levy increase with the number of mills determined by whether the separate marijuana question passes.

At the same meeting, El Paso County Commissioners also unanimously passed a symbolic resolution formally opposing Proposition 122, a statewide ballot initiative seeking to redefine certain psychedelic plants and fungi, commonly known as "psychedelic mushrooms," as natural medicine; decriminalize personal use, possession, growth and transport of such plants and fungi for people aged 21 and older; and create the Regulated Natural Medicine Access Program for licensed operators to administer "natural medicine services."

The Colorado Springs City Council took the same formal stance on the city's measures regarding marijuana a few weeks ago. 

Supporters of legalizing recreational sales of cannabis called both resolutions shortsighted.