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Recreational marijuana could be on Colorado Springs voters' ballots

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Posted at 6:04 PM, Jan 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-26 10:53:56-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — Recreational cannabis has been legal in Colorado for nearly a decade, but the City of Colorado Springs has only approved the sale of medical marijuana.

One group in Colorado Springs wants to change that, and they want to put a question on November's ballot to sell recreational cannabis in the city.

"People who live and work and play in Colorado Springs are going to other municipalities, purchasing their marijuana, and bringing it back to Colorado Springs and we don't get the benefit of it," Anthony Carlson, the group's campaign manager said.

The group filed a petition with the City Clerk in Colorado Springs on Monday. The proposal would give medical marijuana dispensary owners in Colorado Springs the ability to sell recreational cannabis, with the revenue generated from the sales going towards veteran programs, mental health, and public safety in the city.

"For us what we were trying to do was to adopt a process that looked exactly like what already exists in Colorado Springs right now," Carlson said, "the big question we asked ourselves was how do we do this in such a way that it doesn't fundamentally change the way this looks within the city."

The topic of recreational marijuana has come up with City Council over the years.

Currently, Manitou Springs is the only place in El Paso County allowing the sale of recreational marijuana. Nearby Pueblo city and county allow recreational sales.

The group says Colorado Springs is missing out on the revenue going to those places already.

The ballot question would be an amendment to the city charter, which would require about 30,000 valid signatures in 90 days.

"The city has lost about 150 million dollars in tax revenue since recreational marijuana could be in business," Clifton Black, a local attorney, and filer of the petition said, "we just want the voters to be able to have their voice heard again," Black said.

However, it could be some time before Colorado Springs voters see the question on the ballot.

Monday's submission is the beginning of the process to get the question on the ballot. The petition will now go through various boards before collecting signatures and getting set for election in the city.

City Clerk Sarah Johnson said in a meeting with the group Monday, by filing at this time, it could mean a special election for voters instead of at the same time as the midterm general election in November.

"It's possible, it's very possible we may do a special election," Johnson said, "because we've now got an extra 14 days in there it could play out where there's a special election."

The petition will go to both the initiative and the title boards in the city. The title board will finalize the petition before the group can begin collecting signatures. Johnson says it's a process that can take 20 days or longer.

"It all depends on the front end process and how long it takes to get through that process," Johnson said.

Johnson said when the initiative could show up on the ballot would be determined later, likely in the summer.

Organizers of the initiative say they believe this question will ultimately end up on the main November 8th ballot.

"We want to submit our ballot language early so we can start working with the city to get the right language down," Black said, "we do have opposition to this within the city so if they have any issues with our ballot language we want to work with them ahead of time and get it straightened out."