This story is part of an exciting, ongoing pro/con dialogue on various issues between two of our editors – Winfield Stratton and William Palmer. In this piece, we’ll be exploring the benefits or “pros” for City Council to approve retail sales of marijuana in Colorado Springs city limits.
Back in November, 55% of Colorado voters approved the legalization of recreational use of Marijuana, creating huge legal and regulatory concerns around the retail sales of the substance for both the State and local municipalities. For a recap on the impact of Amendment 64, check out this great Q&A from the Brookings Institute.
Many Colorado cities have already decided on how they will approach the issue: Denver has approved retail sales, El Paso County has banned sales, and Pueblo has decided to kick the can down the road via a moratorium. On June 27th, the City of Colorado Springs held a public town hall meeting at city hall for concerned citizens and stakeholders to voice their opinion to City Council on this very matter. The consensus from the public seemed equally split, according to the Gazette. It also appears that our city council members are equally split on the issue as well, according to a news article released just today by KRCC.
There are several benefits of legalizing retail sales of marijuana within city limits:
- It was the voters’ will to legalize marijuana and attempts to ban the retail sales of the drug goes against the voters’ desire to have access to the drug legally. Libertarian-minded council members or council members representing a large portion of libertarian-minded constituents would be well-advised to not restrict the sales of the drug.
- Retail sales of marijuana will create jobs and entreprenuer opportunities. When A-64 passed, I remember thinking how awesome it would be to start my own business down on Tejon Street near Colorado College. Can you say, “Cha-Ching!?”
- Retail sales will generate tax revenue. Let’s not forget about how heavily the city relied on medical marijuana sales to keep the city on life support during the recent recession. Taxation could generate a lot of revenue for the city, which could go towards parks, police, fire or city-sponsored drug rehabilitation centers, which would all create much needed jobs in a new sector of the economy. According to Policymic.com, between excise and sale taxes, regulation is expected to generate $46 million dollars in combined state and local revenue.
- There will be tax savings on reduced need for enforcement. According to research featured at Huffington Post, the state spends about 4% of its combined police, judicial, and correctional budgets on marijuana-related offenses. Giving citizens a legal way to obtain marijuana will reduce enforcement costs for a city-wide ban.
- Marijuana sales could help to diversify the Colorado Springs economy, which is heavily dependent upon the military and scenic tourism. Aside from the expected increase in jobs from retail sales and grow shops, tourism would be expected to increase significantly for people wanting to travel here and purchase marijuana legally, and we all know that tourism has a huge ripple effect on the economy.
- Retail sales may improve the city’s image. Many across the nation see Colorado Springs as nothing more than a strange conservative stronghold that refuses to pay taxes, making it an unattractive place to relocate businesses, especially damaging for the cause of attracting and keeping young professionals here. While we all know that Colorado Springs is much more than this, banning sales of marijuana will only further damage the already sad reputation our fine city has.
So what did we miss? Can you think of any other benefits of legalizing retail sales of marijuana here in Colorado Springs? We want to hear your opinion, so please do comment!