Updated on May 13, 2021.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
A recent retail marijuana ballot measure in Colorado Springs has experienced strong opposition from the Colorado Springs Cannabis Association. The Colorado Springs city council has plans to review the measure. They need to consider whether to take it to the voters for the scheduled November 3rd election.
The Cannabis Association wrote a letter to the council on July 23. In this letter, they state how the measure will limit new retail marijuana business licenses to 24. They further say if approved, the measure would destroy the existing medical marijuana business model. It would also put a severe risk over 80% of the current businesses and employees, by encouraging more dispensaries in the city, and increasing competition between established cannabis providers.
Also, such limitations upend existing free market dynamics. It may force the City Council to pick winners and losers in an established business environment, punish entrepreneurship, and penalize individual investment in the community. The CSCA also stated that a change to the regulations would fail to honor the cap that council placed on marijuana stores in 2017.
No Measure Than Bad Measure
Colorado Springs is currently home to 118 medical marijuana stores. According to the CSCA spokesman Brett Moore, they would find it convenient if they had the opportunity to convert their license to retail rather than “duke it out” with one another to fight over the limited number of new licenses.
The spokesman also says that he would love to see the city approve dual licensing. That’s as simple as having both the medical license and a retail license on the wall,” he says, noting “It’s being done all over the state with little fanfare and little problems, and that’s basic.”
The proposal on the table is going to limit retail licenses to only two dozen. This is what Moore says about that, “We would rather have no measure than a bad measure.”
An Arbitrary Number: How Many Dispensaries Are “Too Many” in Colorado Springs?
The state’s retail advocates have been making efforts for years to bring a measure to voters. Now some believe it has the five Council votes necessary to refer. But there is a conflict over the proposal.
“As far as the Cannabis Association understands, that is an arbitrary number picked out of the sky, ” Moore says about the licensing limit.
He says the association fears the 22,000 “red card” medical marijuana patients in the city would prefer the retail stores if given the opportunity. That would surely kill the MMJ business. Unless there was a tax break for medical marijuana. This has been used effectively in other states that have both Adult-Use and medical marijuana dispensaries.
“We at CSCA believe that retail marijuana sales should be there. However, we have to look out after our 118 businesses, and the established medical marijuana industry that’s built out in the last decade. Throwing out a low number of retail stores will wreck that economy,” Moore said. On the other hand, Councilor Bill Murray tells the association, he is for the idea of taking the measure to the voters. Ask these voters to allow retail marijuana stores and work out the details later.
“First, let’s give our community the respect it deserves and allow it to opt-in or out of Rec MMJ,” Says Councilor Murray. “Then, the Council will have the opportunity to address all the extra issues.”
Colorado Springs Cannabis Association wants the best for marijuana businesses. It only takes one lousy measure to backtrack years of progress. The CSCA hopes the measure will not pass and that MMJ businesses will not be affected.