Manitou council to consider marijuana moratorium, sales tax and ban

By: john schroyer
August 15, 2013 Updated: August 15, 2013 at 9:55 am
photo - Shoppers in downtwn Manitou Springs Friday, November 25, 2011. Mark Reis, The Gazette
Shoppers in downtwn Manitou Springs Friday, November 25, 2011. Mark Reis, The Gazette 

MANITOU SPRINGS - The Manitou Springs City Council on Tuesday set up four possible courses of action on retail recreational marijuana sales for a vote at its meeting next week.

Manitou Springs Mayor Marc Snyder asked staff to prepare draft language for two potential moratoriums on retail sales, a ballot measure that would ask voters to approve up to a 10 percent sales tax, and an option for the town to ban recreational marijuana sales.

One of the moratoriums would expire Nov. 15. The other would last until November 2014.

Snyder said his read on council members is that the short-term moratorium and the sales tax ballot measure are the most likely to pass at next week's meeting.

"There's five of seven (council members) that are ready to move forward at this point," Snyder said.

Snyder's request came after more than three hours of public testimony and council discussion Tuesday.

If the council approves the sales tax ballot measure, it would go before voters in November. The ballot measure wouldn't automatically impose a 10 percent sales tax, but would authorize council members to impose a tax that high; they could decide to shrink the number.

Snyder also said that if the council passes the short-term moratorium, it could be extended in mid-November if the council decides it needs more time to hammer out regulations or gather information.

The council could delay a decision for as little as a week at a time, Snyder said.

If Manitou Springs decides to allow sales of recreational marijuana, it could become the only municipality in El Paso County to do so. Colorado Springs, Woodland Park, Green Mountain Falls, Fountain, Palmer Lake and Monument have voted to ban recreational marijuana sales. Allowing the sales of recreational marijuana could make Manitou a destination for local marijuana users. That was a concern voiced by Councilman Matt Carpenter, whose ward approved Amendment 64 last year by 75 percent.

"When we voted on this, we did not know we would be the only ones doing this," Carpenter said. Carpenter repeatedly proposed putting retail sales on the local ballot.

Amendment 64, which legalized recreational marijuana use, passed by just under 68 percent in Manitou Springs last year, and many residents who spoke at the meeting said the voters have spoken. But Carpenter and others said they should be cautious with any decision on retail marijuana sales.

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