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Pueblo healthcare leaders take a stand against the marijuana industry

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Pueblo healthcare leaders sign a petition in support of a marijuana opt out initiative. Pueblo healthcare leaders sign a petition in support of a marijuana opt out initiative.
PUEBLO -

Three of Pueblo's major healthcare providers have teamed up to back a petition drive and proposed ballot initiative that could reverse the legalization of recreational marijuana across the Steel City.

They are joining forces with "Citizens for a Healthy Pueblo," the group working to collect petition signatures to put this on the ballot.

"Anybody who puts their head in the sand and says this isn't harming our community, I disagree with," Parkview Medical Center President and CEO Michael Baxter said.

This group of healthcare leaders says they've seen the firsthand effects of marijuana legalization, and have decided to take a stand against it.

"It has become clear to us over the last two and a half years that the recreational marijuana has had a very negative impact on our community," Baxter said.

Baxter's team is joining forces with St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center and the Pueblo Community Health Center to take the first steps in getting this initiative on the ballot.

"One of the things -- the most disturbing things -- that we see is the increase in treatment for people under 18 years old that have some way, shape, or form ingested this drug," Baxter said.

Many healthcare leaders have spoken out about the problems they've seen since recreation marijuana was legalized.

"For instance, last month, we saw half of our newborns that were tested for prenatal drug exposure concerns -- nearly half of them tested positive for THC," St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center President and CEO Brain Moore said.

Moore said the legalization of marijuana has resulted in a serious public health issue.

"I think that Pueblo citizens should reconsider whether commercialization of marijuana belongs in our community," he said.

On the flip side, supporters of the "Growing Pueblo's Future" campaign said this is nonsense.

"Please stop gouging the public in Pueblo," campaign supporter Dr. Malik Hasan said.

News 5 sat down with prominent Dr. Hasan on Wednesday, who said he was disappointed to see his peers take a stand against marijuana.

"If they want this to be non-legal, what solution do they have for the black market? Have they found some magical solution that teens and all that won't be getting into the black market?" Dr. Hasan asked.

Five personal of registered voters' signatures must be collected before this initiative could appear on the ballot.

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