This mid-term election, citizens living in unincorporated areas of El Paso County voted yes or no on a controversial referendum seeking to ban medical marijuana dispensaries. According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, there are currently 12 – 15 dispensaries, with 17 more applying for permits, in unincorporated El Paso County.
Question 1-A was voted down by a mere 331 votes, leaving El Paso County officials to conduct a recount, unless provisional ballots that have yet to be counted tip the scale more significantly. Officials have until November 19 to deliver a final tally of the votes. Marijuana Lawyer Shelby Township .
In the meantime, El Paso County will continue to uphold temporary regulations, passed in December, 2009, regarding medical marijuana dispensaries. KKTV.com reports that the regulations include bans on dispensaries within 500 feet of schools, parks, churches and homes, restricted hours of operation, and requirements to display permits and sales tax licenses. Though Colorado voters made the use of medical marijuana legal in 2000, the state has yet to fully regulate how medical marijuana dispensaries can legally sell to customers.
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Even before Question 1-A went to a vote, 15 medical marijuana dispensary owners sued the county, arguing that the ban would unconstitutionally nullify the temporary licenses they had already been awarded, and asking that the referendum votes not be counted until their lawsuit had been decided. Judge Timothy Simmons ruled that Question 1-A should still go to a vote and that the lawsuit would be decided after the November 2 election. Despite the referendum’s apparent defeat, the dispensary owners do not plan to drop the lawsuit. Instead, they plan to fight to make sure similar referendums do not make it onto El Paso County ballots.
While Question 1-A only applies to unincorporated areas of El Paso County, which consist mostly of small towns and villages, residents of the City of Colorado Springs are following its status closely, because there is currently a movement to place a similar ban referendum on a Colorado Springs election ballot in April, 2011. Steve Wind is a Colorado Springs citizen at the forefront of the Let Us Vote COS movement, which is currently collecting signatures for the referendum. In an email to the Colorado Springs Gazette, Wind wrote, “It is NOT about ‘medicine’ as is claimed. Pot shops are only about 2 things-making money and getting high.”
The Colorado Springs Independent reports that, on the opposite side of the issue, the Cannabis Therapy Institute is running a Legalize 2012 campaign, which seeks to place a state-wide referendum to legalize the use of marijuana for all citizens on the 2012 ballot. The Legalize 2012 campaign began in earnest November 3, with Paul Danish, former Boulder City Councilman and City Commissioner, speaking to supporters about the politics of legalization.
Lance Benzel, Pot ban defeat leaves county looking at plan B, Colorado Springs Gazette
El Paso County Passes Regulations on Medical Marijuana, KKTV.com
Daniel Chacon, MEDICAL MARIJUANA: Will business be banned?, Colorado Springs Gazette
Lance Benzel, Lawsuit now aims to protect against future pot ban attempts, Colorado Springs Gazette
Bryce Crawford, Money, mandates and medical marijuana, Colorado Springs Independent
Daniel Chacon, Pot shops are only about ‘making money and getting high,’ Colorado Springs Gazette
Legalize 2012 Campaign
Cannabis Therapy Institute
Let Us Vote COS Campaign
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