Manitou retail pot ballot question likely

453697245Less than two months after Manitou Springs City Council approved the licensing of retail marijuana businesses on the city’s eastern edge, one band of disapproving opponents still hasn’t given up.

Manitou business owner Tim Haas, who started the campaign known as “No Retail Marijuana in Manitou Springs,” said he estimates the group has gathered between 500 and 600 signatures on a petition for a ballot issue on whether to allow retail sales — twice the 287 required for inclusion on the November ballot.

“I’m almost certain we’ll have a vote in November to opt out,” said Manitou City Administrator Jack Benson.

But it’s hard to predict how a vote would turn out six months or more after two approved pot shops will be allowed to open, and any obvious benefits or detriments could sway residents either way.

Benson said the town could see some revenue stream from marijuana by May, depending on if and when the two shops open. Facing that uncertainty, the city did not include pot tax revenue estimates in the 2014 budget. In that way, and others, it’s very much a financial wait-and-see situation — weed is a wild card.

“From a business perspective, it is very troubling to me,” said Haas, who owns the Manitou Outpost, Mountain High Sportswear, Mountain High Gallery and Gift, and the Garden of the Gods Trading Post. “There is no doubt that there will be an impact on business.”

The two proposed sites

The only shops eligible to be licensed to sell retail marijuana under state law and with Manitou’s approval are expected to open next month or early May.

According to regulations, only Maggie’s Farm (approved last fall to open another of its medical marijuana dispensaries in Manitou) and Absolute Manitou Wellness Center at 2 Manitou Ave. (the only operating medical marijuana clinic in town) could apply to sell retail until this summer.

The approved zone for the shops is in the commercial district on the eastern portion of the 5,200-population city.

Applications to dispense retail marijuana must be submitted to the state, and include a background investigation, $500 in application fees and between $3,500 and $14,000 in licensing costs. After the business owner has applied for state licensure, he or she must apply to Manitou (including $300 for permits and an annual fee of $5,000) and work with the planning commission to prepare for City Council approval.

The primary points of contention for “No Retail Marijuana” include fearing its impact on the family-friendly town and the children in it, and Haas’ concern over how that might affect business.

“Our concern again is that the perception of those considering coming to this area may change,” Haas said. “We’ve worked hard for a number of years to market our community as family-friendly … and my fear is that, right or wrong, perception is more important than reality.”

Haas said because Amendment 64 — legalizing retail marijuana and possession — passed in Manitou with 67 percent voter approval in 2012 doesn’t mean the town should have retail businesses.

“I really don’t agree with that interpretation of the vote,” he said.

While tax revenues from retail marijuana may benefit the city, Haas says the detriment to other industries could be devastating for the tiny tourist town.

Small businesses

Besides a fairly strong band of anti-pot advocates in Manitou, others are either supportive of or apathetic to the plight of City Council. Farley McDonough, who owns Adam’s Mountain Café, said proximity to pot shops never crossed her mind in choosing to relocate from downtown to the east end of the town.

“I listened to the arguments, but ultimately we had to move no matter what was happening in the East End,” she said.

She said she sees both the positive and the negative implications retail marijuana might have for local small businesses, but ultimately views it as change that the community should embrace. McDonough said it may be a convenient way to fund important community projects and infrastructure upgrades essential to the town’s future in a flood zone.

“There will be opportunities to invest that revenue back into Manitou,” she said. “Some think it will detract visiting families from coming to Manitou, but I don’t anticipate that at all.”

“For years we have had a pancake special called the ‘Stoner Cake,’ ” she said. “I expect sales of that item to go up just for novelty alone.”

5 Responses to Manitou retail pot ballot question likely

  1. The “War on Marijuana” has been a complete and utter failure. It is the largest component of the broader yet equally unsuccessful “War on Drugs” that has cost our country over a trillion dollars.

    Instead of The United States wasting Billions upon Billions more of our tax dollars fighting a never ending “War on Marijuana”, lets generate Billions of dollars, and improve the deficit instead. It’s a no brainer.

    The Prohibition of Marijuana has also ruined the lives of many of our loved ones. In numbers greater than any other nation, our loved ones are being sent to jail and are being given permanent criminal records which ruin their chances of employment for the rest of their lives, and for what reason?

    Marijuana is much safer, and healthier to consume than alcohol. Yet do we lock people up for choosing to drink?

    Let’s end this hypocrisy now!

    The government should never attempt to legislate morality by creating victim-less “crimes” because it simply does not work and costs the taxpayers a fortune.

    Marijuana Legalization Nationwide is an inevitable reality that’s approaching much sooner than prohibitionists think and there is nothing they can do to stop it!

    Legalize Nationwide! Support Each and Every Marijuana Legalization Initiative!

    Brian Kelly
    March 18, 2014 at 5:04 pm

  2. Wonder how many do-over elections we will have for people who didn’t pay attention the first time!

    Judith Posch
    March 18, 2014 at 7:56 pm

  3. yes yes yes!! Put it on the ballot! Then the Dems are sure to get people out to vote and win the midterms! hahahaha! And people know the Republicans and Libertarians are behind this so called Free Market unless I disagree with it idea. hahahaha!

    carolyn cathey
    March 19, 2014 at 1:09 pm

  4. Tim evidently refers to the initial Amendment 64 vote, in which approx. 67% of Manitou RESIDENTS voted YES. He may be correct in asserting that the initial vote did not automatically imply community approval to allow retail sales. That vote occurred later, when the issue of TAXING recreational marijuana appeared on the ballot. He would prefer to ignore the fact that, again, approx. 67% of Manitou RESIDENTS voted YES, to allow and TAX sales. After community hearings, our City Council voted in the majority (one dissenting vote) to allow this, as indicated by the expressed will of the voters in MANITOU (as opposed to voters, such as Tim, who reside outside of our community).

    I’m going to ask the question again: At what point in time did one business entity’s desires begin to trump the democratic process? But fine, put it back on the ballot. In the meantime, recreational sales will be put into play in Manitou Springs and we’ll have several months to find out if the opponent’s worst fears come true. We’ll also find out if the tax revenue generated by Tim’s business concerns exceed those derived from recreational marijuana sales. The fact is, the additional flow of visitors to Manitou by virtue of all of this very well may handsomely bolster his company’s sales.

    In my personal opinion – which, accordingly to the unanimous opinion of those with whom I’ve visited, Manitou faces a larger problem with approval ratings in relation to the paid parking kiosks installed last season. But that’s a topic for another day.

    Rex Morriss
    March 21, 2014 at 11:28 am

  5. Marijuana was originally outlawed in the United States in 1913 in Brownsville, TX. No medical testing was done. The liquor merchants were pissed because the Mexicans were not buying their cheaply made over priced alcohol.

    As a previous commentor stated, this has been a massive governmental failure in their stupid attempts run people’s lives. Marijuana has been readily available in Manitou Springs for years. Making it available recreationally will result in fewer drunk drivers, and will not result in a particular increase in users. They are already using it. Manitou Springs is full of restaurants. Marijuana makes people hungry. Figure it out, if you can.

    March 21, 2014 at 2:01 pm