When Colorado legalized marijuana in 2014, they allowed cities to determine whether or not they would allow cannabis businesses to operate within their jurisdictions. But considering all the good things marijuana has brought for the cities that did allow legalization, many who continued prohibition of the drug are beginning to regret their choice.
Colorado Springs is the second-largest city in the state. Considering that it's a fairly conservative area, in 2013 the city council banned recreational marijuana sales. But now Colorado Springs is seeing how cannabis taxes are revitalizing other cities in the state and allowing major projects to get underway. It's also particularly hard for the city to see these major improvements in neighboring knowing that many of the customers who are buying marijuana are Colorado Springs residents. Colorado Springs City Council President Richard Skorman calls it "sales tax leakage."
“People are going all over this state to buy marijuana and it’s outrageous,” Skorman told the LA Times. “It’s already legal. It’s in the state’s Constitution.”
A study conducted by a University of Denver professor estimates that Colorado Springs is currently losing out on about $20 million worth of money because of their marijuana ban.
On the bright side for Colorado Springs residents, a change may be on the way. A group called Citizens for Safer Neighborhoods has organized a ballot initiative for next November that will allow the city to reverse the marijuana ban and begin to reap the benefits of legalization. They need 20,000 signatures by this summer, but considering the support from the community as well as politicians such as Skorman, it will likely succeed.
Perhaps that's a sign for any cities in California, Massachusetts or other states legalizing marijuana about opting out of an industry that generates millions of dollars for local governments every year.
(h/t LA Times)