The only good answer is, "Only time will tell." The impact of our decision to legalize sales of recreational marijuana will not be fully known for years to come.
We are not a big town; we cannot ignore our part in a larger community.
There were good reasons why Colorado Springs and others rejected recreational marijuana. Chief among them is the presence of five major military installations and the significant problems recreational pot poses to the military.
If the easy availability of weed in Manitou Springs becomes a problem for those military installations, where possession is a federal offense, thereby jeopardizing the future of the economy of the larger region, we will have done ourselves and our neighbors a grave disservice.
The Denver Post reported that Coloradans are by and large worried about what legalization of marijuana has done to our great state's image. We will wrestle with the same issue on a local level.
Will Manitou Springs have a reputation as a city of potheads walking around stoned all the time?
Remember, image need not necessarily reflect reality. What will the impact of that image have upon traditional businesses? Will it have a negative impact on attracting tourists not interested in buying marijuana for themselves (or their children)?
I work for an international air-freight company. I travel the world and see the effects that recreational marijuana has had on various cities. These cities usually try to confine the drug culture to one smaller area of a larger city (sound familiar?). My experience is that those areas where drug use is concentrated become unsavory for the general population - I am concerned about what Manitou Springs will be like in 5, 10 or more years.
But my biggest concern is reserved for our kids.
What will the impact be as they grow up in a city not only known as a center for marijuana but also, undoubtedly, a place where young people will be able to get hold of the drug much, much easier than anywhere else.
Will we be able to protect them from all of this? I'm not convinced we will.
Rex Hoey has lived in Manitou Springs for 10 years, since retiring from the Air Force as a lieutenant colonel.
Time tells us (time and time again) that prohibition fails.
For 99 percent of human history, the cannabis plant was legal, i.e., purchased openly, sold and used all over the planet.
The experiment is not in regulating and taxing it today but in the last 75 years of failed prohibition.
Time clearly tells us of:
- The mass criminalization of Americans
- Ineffective, expensive enforcement costing billions
- Violent, untaxable, underground economies supporting gangs and cartels
Prohibitionists fail to use facts to justify their fear-mongering. The sky has not fallen with MMJ or alcohol.
Responsible regulation simply makes more dollars and sense.