Idyllic mountain hamlet Manitou Springs, currently the home of El Paso County’s sole recreational pot shop, could become the first city in Colorado to allow recreational marijuana sales — and then reverse the law, depending on today’s election results.
Voters in Manitou Springs will decide today the fate of Ballot Question 2G, which would ban recreational marijuana shops in the city. (A yes vote means shops there will be prohibited; A no vote means recreational marijuana sales will be allowed.) At Manitou’s lone recreational pot shop, Maggie’s Farm, it would mean reverting to a medical-only dispensary after only opening its doors recreationally on July 31, 2014.
A call to the Maggie’s Farm outlet in Manitou on Tuesday went unreturned, but the dispensary group that also has locations in Colorado Springs, Pueblo West and beyond does have multiple “No on 2G” badges on its website. The group’s Manitou location sold more than $2 million worth of marijuana from July 31-Oct. 7 and paid more than $220,000 in taxes to the city, representatives told the Colorado Springs Independent.
Activists on both sides of the issue have been vocal leading up to today’s election.
“People are afraid that bad things might happen, and so far everything they’ve suggested hasn’t happened,” Alan Delwiche, co-chair of the No on 2G campaign, told The Cannabist. “We don’t have traffic problems. Our crime is down. Tourism was a fear, that people would stop coming to Manitou, and if anything tourism has been much stronger in the last few months.
“There’s a lot of fear of what might happen — that seems to be the primary thing. But now it’s all a matter of getting the vote out, and we’ve been doing that aggressively.”
Yes on 2G’s Kari Kilroy has also been campaigning passionately on the issue and feels as if Manitou Springs’ City Council should have waited until November’s elections before allowing recreational marijuana in the town.
“We felt this was a decision too important for seven people to make,” Kilroy said. “And our schools are seeing more marijuana incidents in the classrooms, too. For all of last year, the school reported six incidents with marijuana. This year, from mid-August to mid-October, the school reported 14 incidents in the two months after Maggie’s Farm opened.
“No one is accusing Maggie’s Farm of selling to minors. The owner seems to be very deliberate about how he runs his business. But (marijuana is) finding its way through older siblings and parents … I have a background in public health, and I predicted these problems with marijuana in schools would go up. But I thought it would happen more slowly. So this jump is quite startling and quite surprising to me.”
Both Delwiche and Kilroy are hopeful, but neither said they were confident about their side’s chances on Tuesday.
“It could go either way,” Kilroy said. “The main thing is we’ve allowed the town to have a say in this. However the town votes, we have a choice.”
While we’re not yet sure how Manitou voters will come down on the issue, Delwiche points out that Manitou residents have historically reacted favorably to marijuana in past votes. Residents there passed the pot-legalizing Amendment 64 by a definitive margin in 2012.
Manitou resident Jason Yester doesn’t smoke pot but sees enough positive impacts on his hometown that he voted no on 2G on Tuesday.
“I look at it as a business,” Yester, owner and founder of Trinity Brewing pub and restaurant in Colorado Springs, told The Cannabist. “There haven’t been any problems as far as crime. It’s bringing in $100,000 in tax revenues per month into Manitou, which is something the city really, really needs — especially with all the damages from floods and fires the last two years.
“It’s almost single-handedly started to revive the town, too. I’m pro-community, and this is a good thing for Manitou.”