Jan 8, 2014 1:30 AM by Maddie Garrett
El Paso County could soon have its first two, and likely only, retail marijuana shops, following the initial approval of Manitou Springs's ordinance that will allow and regulate retail marijuana.
In a six to one vote Tuesday night, the Manitou Springs City Council voted to approve the ordinance and move forward to a final reading and vote on January 21, 2014. After a lengthy discussion and additional input from the public, the Council decided to make a few minor changes to the ordinance before the next meeting.
Council members, all except Gary Smith, expressed their satisfaction with the ordinance at Tuesday's meeting, saying it is unique to Manitou Springs and addresses key issues not regulated by the State's Amendment 64.
One of the main stipulations, only two retail marijuana stores will be allowed in the city at any given time. Already established medical marijuana dispensaries will have priority in applying and receiving the retail marijuana licenses.
There are currently two medical marijuana facilities licensed in Manitou Springs, one of which was just approved Tuesday night at 141 Manitou Avenue.
While retail marijuana stores and marijuana testing facilities will be allowed in the city, marijuana cultivation and marijuana manufacturing facilities will not be allowed. There is also a more strict conditional use piece of the ordinance, prohibiting retail marijuana shops from being located in the historic downtown area and other factors, including proximity to schools and residential areas.
A unique aspect of Manitou Springs's ordinance is the requirement that all recreational retail marijuana must be tested for contaminates and potency, something not required for medical marijuana.
The retail marijuana licenses will be for one year, renewable on a yearly basis. There are also restrictions on signage and security requirements such as mandatory surveillance cameras, alarm systems, exterior lighting and a locking safe. These requirements are meant to deter crime given that these will be cash only shops.
Some concerns voiced by Manitou Springs residents at the meeting centered around Manitou not being ready for the influx of business, given that it will be one of the few places in Southern Colorado where people can get retail marijuana.
Other residents, along with Councilman Smith, maintained their strong opposition to the ordinance, saying "it doesn't send the right message" and isn't the type of business they want in Manitou Springs.
In the end, the ordinance passed the first reading. After minor changes to some of the wording in the ordinance, it is expected to pass on January 21, 2014. At that time, the temporary prohibition of retail marijuana will be lifted and businesses can start applying for those licenses.
To read the retail marijuana ordinance in full, click on the link below, and scroll to page 51: