New initiative to ask for marijuana repeal in Pueblo County - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

New initiative to ask for marijuana repeal in Pueblo County

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Pueblo voters will soon be asked whether they want to repeal legal marijuana in the County.  The initial wording of a petition for initiative calls for the, "prohibition of new retail marijuana establishments and the closure of existing retail marijuana establishments."

The proposal also calls for a ban on marijuana product makers and testing facilities, while exempting industrial hemp businesses.

Pueblo County Clerk and Recorder Gilbert Ortiz tells News 5 there is a five day statutory period in which the petitioner and the County may work to edit the wording of any ballot initiative before the petitions are certified for circulation.

County Commissioners issued news releases Friday afternoon raising alarm over the proposal saying that it would not restrict people from using marijuana, but rather just the stores where they currently buy it.

"If passed Pueblo residents would be forced to purchase from the black market for a legal product," reads a new release issued the board.

In as separate release, County Commissioner Sal Pace decried the measure as divisive.

"I'm saddened that a vocal minority is willing to tear apart our community when the voters of Pueblo have already spoken loud and clear," Pace said. "The result will be the same…again… except the community will be divided unnecessarily for the next seven months."

The commissioners touted the tax revenue and economic benefits legal marijuana created for Pueblo County. Two thirds of all commercial building permits issued in unincorporated Pueblo County last year were related to businesses in the cannabis industry.  

Marijuana sales taxes also generated $1.63 million in net revenue in 2014 and another $1.75 million in 2015. Another $3.5 million in tax revenue is expected to be raised this year as a result of a 3.5 percent excise tax passed by voters in November.

The County plans to spend that money funding a dozen different programs including college scholarships for students graduating from Pueblo area high schools, road safety improvements along rural school bus routes on the St. Charles Mesa, medical marijuana research programs at Colorado State University Pueblo and streetscape improvements at the Colorado State Fair.

Other projects include engineering and ridership studies for the Southwest Chief Commission, an expansion at the Desert Hawk Golf Course, an impact study for US Highway 50, infrastructure improvements for the Zinno Subdivision water distinct and improvements at Beulah Elementary School among others.

Statewide marijuana sales topped $1 billion last year with $20 million of that occurring in Pueblo County.

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