Question 300, Issue 301: Colorado Springs voters appear to decide against legalizing recreational marijuana sales

PotZero Gypsum
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Cannabis grower Robert Trotter is the founder of a PotZero in Gypsum, an environmentally sustainable ag business with zero carbon emissions.

Colorado Springs residents appear to have voted down a ballot measure that would have allowed the sale of recreational marijuana within city limits. The ballot measure, if rejected, would reaffirm the city’s hostility toward the decade-old industry.

Late Tuesday night, voters were rejecting recreational cannabis sales in Colorado Springs by a sizable margin.

The 2022 election marked the first time the citizens of Colorado Springs had a direct say in whether to allow recreational dispensaries. At this point, and into the immediate future, the city’s 114 marijuana businesses will continue to only be able to sell to card-carrying medical marijuana patients. 

Top city leaders including Mayor John Suthers lobbied hard against the passage of the two marijuana measures on the city’s November ballot.

“We’re doing fantastic from an economic standpoint in Colorado Springs,” Suthers said in an October interview. “The cost that’s passed on to the health care system, to our schools, to our correctional facilities … far exceeds any economic benefit from [recreational marijuana.]”

Supporters of the two measures argued the city was losing out on millions of dollars of tax revenue by pushing local customers to legal recreational shops in nearby Manitou Springs or Pueblo. One would have legalized the sale of recreational cannabis, and the other would have directed tax dollars toward mental health and public safety programs.

At the election night watch party for Your Choice Colorado Springs — the political action committee supporting the two marijuana measures — those gathered worried that dozens of medical dispensaries who were barely staying open waiting for results of the legalization effort may now close their doors.

“They've been bleeding money, they've been struggling to stay open but [we] were hoping that tonight they'd get a result that would show confidence in them and their businesses in town,” said Anthony Carlson, Your Choice Colorado Springs Campaign Manager.  “They're going to be probably facing some really tough decisions here over the next few weeks and months of what they continue to do with themselves.”

Carlson conceded Tuesday night that supporters’ hopes for passage of the ballot measure to legalize the sale of recreational cannabis, Question 300, were now likely over.

Oddly, one of the two marijuana measures on the ballot did pass. Issue 301 — which would have directed taxes from the sale of recreational pot toward mental health and public safety programs — got the approval of Springs voters. Yet, the passage of that measure is now rendered effectively meaningless with the failure of Question 300, which would have made those recreational sales legal in the first place. 

Recreational marijuana sales does appear to have had success on the ballot in the small nearby town of Palmer Lake. That community will now likely allow up to two recreational dispensaries in town after voters approved a measure there. Recreational cannabis sales are also legal in Manitou Springs in El Paso County.