Decision 2010

Nov 3, 2010 5:34 PM by Andy Koen

Medical marijuana ban fails; recount likely

The vote to ban medical marijuana in El Paso County failed by the slightest of margins.  Out of the more than 180,000 cast, the issue was defeated by only 331 votes.

The margin is close enough to warrant a mandatory recount. Michael Elliott, campaign manager for Citizens for SAFER Communities the group opposed to the ban came to the clerk and recorder's office early Wednesday.

"We would like to ensure fairness throughout the process. We just want to represent our campaign and make sure that everything is being done appropriately."

At stake, is whether some 75 medical marijuana centers operating in unincorporated El Paso County, such as Cannibacare, will be allowed to stay open.

Owner Jeff Sveinsson feels that the county should have grandfathered in businesses like his. Nevertheless, the fact that the ban was defeated was a good sign for his side.

"I'm cautiously optimistic," Sveinsson said. "I believe that with this groundswell of conservative Republican voting it shows that a lot of Republicans voted against the ban."

But proponents of the ban say they're encouraged as well. Father Bill Carmody of St. Dominick's Catholic Church in Fountain says opposition to 1A was far more organized and funded than its supporters.

"For us to basically break even with them with basically a $2,000 - 3,000 budget versus whatever they had, I see this as a great hope."

Elliott says the Citizens had a budget of around $20,000 for the election. Should a recount overturn the vote, he say the economy would suffer.

"We're talking about hundreds of people losing their jobs, we're talking about property values decreasing, government revenue decreasing."

But Fr. Carmody says the community is already headed in the wrong direction with marijuana.

"If you go down Fillmore in Colorado Springs, every other block is a pot shop," Carmody says. "I can't believe there's that many people in Colorado Springs that sick that need that much, there's a problem."

State law requires recounts in close margin races to take place within 25 days of the election. An estimated 5,000 provisional ballots have yet to be counted in the 1A race.

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