Manitou Springs may allow retail pot shops

Retail Marijuana in Manitou Springs

MANITOU SPRINGS, Colo. - Manitou Springs could be the first place in El Paso County to sell retail marijuana.

After Tuesday's vote users won't have to drive to Pueblo or Denver to buy weed without a medical marijuana card.

The vote will very likely come down to 6 to 1.

"I think it's going to send the wrong message. We try to tell the kids it's not good to smoke and now we're saying go ahead and open a retail marijuana shop. That's okay? " asked Gary Smith, member of the ou Springs City Council.

But unlike Smith, most city council members are feeling confident about the vote after adding a new layer of local regulations.

"All retail marijuana that will be sold in Manitou will be tested not only for potency but also for containments. Regulations also on the signs that can be allowed. They can't use any terms slangs. You can't say 'ganja store' or 'refer place'," explains Randy Hodges, Manitou Springs City Council member.

And there are more regulations. The city will only allow two pot shops to open. The owners would have to be licensed for medical marijuana before applying. Also, buyers can only make one purchase a day

"Some of them are looking for a place closer than Pueblo to Denver to buy," said Hodges.

"I don't know if we have the resources to handle that kind of influx, if it happens. Our Police Department is small. Do I want to overtask what a small department we already have? Can we really handle this much extra traffic? If it turns out anything like Pueblo, I don't think we can handle that," explained Smith.

"There is a minority that is very vocal. They're letting us know they are opposed to it. But there's also a very big, quite majority," says Hodges.

"They keep bringing that up, saying that 68% voted for it. But who is standing up for the 32%? I guess right now I am. Sometimes it's frustrating but I feel I am standing up. You got to stand for what you believe in even if you're standing alone," said Smith.

If the council allows retail sale of marijuana shops could open in Manitou as early as the end of March. Right now there's a 45-day wait to process applications at the state level. 

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