Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Woodland Park bans marijuana sales

Alison Noon The Gazette - Updated: June 7, 2013 at 10:02 am

Woodland Park joined a growing number of Colorado municipalities Thursday night in banning retail marijuana.

The city council of the 7,000-person mountain town voted 3-2 to amend city code to prohibit marijuana cultivation, testing, product manufacturing, clubs and retail sales, a law that takes effect as soon as the city publishes the updated version. The city's moratorium on medical marijuana was set to expire July 1.

The decision came at about 11:30 p.m. Michael Slivka, an attorney in Woodland Park, was the only town resident to give comment, backed pot retailing.

"I believe the members of this council are required to follow the law of the state constitution," Slivka said, referring to the amendment to the Colorado Constitution voters approved last November to allow marijuana within the state.

Based on Thursday's late-night discussion, Woodland Park City Council passed the ban primarily because marijuana remains illegal on the federal level.

"It's simple to me, it's against the law," Councilwoman Carrol Harvey said.

Councilman Gary Brovetto also opposed the cultivation and possession of marijuana because it is a controlled substance on the federal level.

"It's your opinion that marijuana is not against the law," Brovetto told Slivka.

It was unclear why Brovetto joined Councilman Robert Carlsen in voting against the ordinance. Carlsen said he voted for Amendment 64 to end prohibition era-like violence.

City Attorney Erin Smith told the council Thursday night that if it did not pass the ordinance and ban marijuana sales, the city would face the task of regulating the new industry.

Local municipalities are not required, however, to take any action unless they choose to diverge the specifics detailed in Amendment 64 and the six subsequent marijuana laws signed by Governor Hickenlooper on May 28.

Following legalization, cities can enact local time, place, manner and number restrictions on retail marijuana licenses, as well as banning the operations.

Cities around the state, including Pueblo most recently, are placing moratoriums on the sales before making more permanent decisions. Others, such as Monument, have amended city codes to disallow retail marijuana within city limits.

A few counties, too, have banned the sales within unincorporated areas.

"The tendency is to push it away, see what happens elsewhere, then - down the road - address it," former Woodland Mayor Steve Randolph said.

In Denver, city council members made an informal agreement Monday to go forward with retail sales of recreational and medicinal marijuana despite disfavor from Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. He advised the council in April to enact a two-year moratorium and ban pot clubs.

A similar situation is emerging in Colorado Springs. Mayor Steve Bach has urged the City Council on to ban it, but the council, including six new members who campaigned on the topic, appears to be leaning toward allowing sales.

El Paso County saw $34.9 million in medical marijuana sales last year, which resulted in about $1 million in state sales tax, the Colorado Department of Revenue found. El Paso far surpassed Boulder, Jefferson and Larimer counties in sales, and was second only to Denver, which rang up nearly $88.5 million.

Colorado Springs City Council will hold a public hearing on the future of retail marijuana in the city at 1 p.m. June 27 on the third floor of City Hall, 107 North Nevada Ave. A decision on whether or not to ban it is expected by July 23.

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