By: Sally Seck
The debate on commercial marijuana in the city and county of Pueblo is heating up at a time when more marijuana businesses are thriving and driving the area's economic recovery.
In 2015, almost 40% of all commercial building permits in the city and the county were for legal marijuana businesses. Over a thousand new jobs have been created in a city that has been in sore need of a new production industry for decades. Legal marijuana has provided the revenue necessary for Pueblo's revitalization, over $2 million in tax revenue in 2015.
But if you've been to the grocery store in Pueblo lately, you've probably seen the people with "No Marijuana in Pueblo" signs asking for your signature. The organization Citizens for a Healthy Pueblo submitted last week petitions to prohibit commercial marijuana production facilities and recreational dispensaries in both Pueblo County and the City of Pueblo. According to their site, the move is in reaction to: "The highest crime rate in the state, constant dangers through over use of electricity and illegal hash oil production, draining the community dry of our natural resources, and EIGHT (so far) massive pot busts in our own neighborhoods."
This group is conflating legal, taxpaying marijuana businesses with home grows, licensed extraction facilities with illegal hash oil production, and falsely attributing Pueblo's elevated crime rate with legal marijuana.
If you use marijuana for medical or recreational purposes, know someone who does, or care about the rights of your neighbors under Colorado Amendment 64, there is something you can do about this. The organization Growing Pueblo's Future is fighting back. They have raised almost $100,000 to campaign against the ballot measures and ensure patient's rights, security for law abiding businesses, and a chance for Pueblo to enjoy a robust economic recovery.
If Citizens for a Healthy Pueblo wants to bring the issue back to the people, the people need to be paying attention. Keep following our blog for updates on this issue as it unfolds. Next week, we should find out if the petitions qualified to get the issue on the ballot. What do you think is right for Pueblo?