Colorado pot legalization advocates won the state-wide war, but the first of the local battles has just begun
By Josh Altic
Although 55% of Colorado voters approved Amendment 64 in 2012, legalizing recreational marijuana according to state law, local voters in city and county jurisdictions may have a different majority opinion. In the wake of Amendment 64, the rest of the nation will be watching as local governments throughout Colorado handle statewide legalization. Now that the issue has come to the forefront of politics across the nation, voters will inevitably become directly involved with measures either affirming legal marijuana or seeking to purge it from their communities. Many measures could be in response to municipal laws, which have already begun to spring up in jurisdictions across Colorado. Over 30 city councils and county commissions have already passed ordinances putting a temporary or permanent stop to retail marijuana in their jurisdictions.
These local jurisdictions include:
- Weld County
- Otero County
- Morgan County
- Garfield County
- Fremont County
- El Paso County
- Douglas County
- Cañon City
- Castle Pines City
- Colorado Springs City
- Durango City
- Erie City
- Broomfield City
- Estes Park City
- Fort Collins City
- Fort Morgan City
- Glenwood Springs City
- Grand Junction City
- Greeley City
- Lafayette City
- Lamar City
- Longmont City
- Montrose City
- Norwood City
- Palmer Lake City
- Paonia City
- Pueblo City
- Thornton City
- Vail City
- Wheat Ridge City
- Windsor City
- Woodland Park City
- Dillon Town
|Voting on Marijuana|
|Not on ballot|
City of Manitou Springs, Colorado
Manitou Springs, Colorado, will feature the first local ballot measure allowing voters to opt out of recreational pot dispensaries. Shortly following the city council's January 22, 2014, approval of an ordinance allowing retail pot dispensaries to operate in the city, the group No Retail Marijuana in Manitou Springs, led by business owner Tim Haas, announced its plan to collect enough signatures for an initiative measure on the November 4, 2014 city ballot. If approved, it would ban retail marijuana dispensaries from the city. The group planned to begin circulating signature petitions to put this measure on the ballot in February 2014 and needs to collect at least 287 valid signatures to qualify its initiative. Backers hope to collect three times the required number before June 1.
Haas expressed concern that having marijuana readily available in the city could be harmful to the tourism industry, which the city enjoys, as prospective tourists would no longer see the city as wholesome or family-friendly. Manitou finance director Rebecca Davis said that about 47 percent of the 2014 general fund is expected to come from tourism-generated taxes. This percentage does not include the projected $506,000 in city revenue by the city from new on-street parking fees.
Haas said, "I think part of Manitou's attractiveness is it's always been an eclectic group. It's an accepting community on a whole variety of different levels, and that's part of the reason that I really like Manitou." He went on to say, "In my opinion, perception is more important than reality. And a lot of potential visitors from out of the state, their perception is this is no longer going to be family friendly."
Those in favor of allowing retail marijuana believe it will actually bring additional tourism to the city, as well as additional tax revenue from the new industry. Such advocates are urging a "no" vote on this measure, which seeks to ban dispensaries from the city. In reaction to the city's ordinance, Bill Conkling, owner of medical marijuana shop Maggie's Farm, said, "I think there will definitely be some tourism with it." Aaron Bowles-Jacks of Manitou Springs was also pleased by the city council decision, saying, "I believe it will be great for Manitou...bring plenty of business to the town, the family businesses, and it will help the schools here."
Looking forward: 2014 and beyond
Even though marijuana is no longer illegal according to state law, Colorado voters, as well as voters throughout other states, can expect to see many initiatives and referred ballot measures nailing down the local stance on recreational cannabis in the near future. To see the details and outcomes of all such ballot measures follow Ballotpedia's comprehensive coverage of this local issue.
This issue has already surfaced in the local jurisdictions of several other states, such as Maine and Wisconsin this year, but with measures seeking to legalize cannabis, rather than prohibit it. A question is also being initiated in the Nation's capitol, where District of Columbia residents may be voting on an initiative to legalize possession and use of up to two ounces of marijuana and cultivation of up to three marijuana plants within the city's limits.
The following measures related to recreational marijuana legalization are planned for 2014:
- Washington D.C. Marijuana Legalization, Initiative 71 (November 2014)
- City of Manitou Springs Retail Marijuana Ban (November 2014)
- City of Lewiston Recreational Marijuana Legalization Measure (November 2014)
- Town of York Recreational Marijuana Legalization Measure (November 2014)
- City of South Portland Recreational Marijuana Legalization Measure (November 2014)
- Dane County State Legalization of Marijuana Referendum (April 2014)
Medical marijuana is also being voted on in the following measures:
- City of Imperial Beach "Compassionate Access Ordinance" Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Act (June 2014)
- City of Napa Medical Marijuana Dispensary Referendum (November 2014)
- City of Riverside Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Initiative (2014)
- City of San Jose Medical Marijuana Regulation Act of 2014 (November 2014)
- Lake County Marijuana Cultivation Ordinance Referendum (June 2014)
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- Legalize Cannabis International, "Colorado: Cities and Areas that Have Opted-Out of A-64 Production and Sales of Marijuana," accessed February 14, 2014
- Colorado Independent Springs, "Some in Manitou Springs want a marijuana do-over," February 12, 2014
- KKTV.com, "Locals React To Manitou Springs' Decision On Recreational Pot," January 23, 2014