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Pueblo County residents express pushback, support after marijuana legalization

Residents express pushback, support after pot legalization

PUEBLO COUNTY, Colo. - Since recreational marijuana became legal in Pueblo County six months ago, more than $5.4 million worth of pot has been sold.

Chris Papeesh just moved to Pueblo County from Indianapolis because of the legalization.

"We pulled in, unpacked the truck. It's all sitting in boxes in my living room and I wanted to come out and get something to celebrate," said Papeesh while waiting in line to buy marijuana at Marisol Therapeutics.

Only two stores were selling recreational pot on January 1. Lines were out the door. Now, there are eight retail shops in the county. Pueblo County commissioners have capped the number of stores this year at 10.

May proved to be the busiest month for pot sales in the county. The Pueblo County Clerk and Recorder's Office reported marijuana sales exceeded $1.4 million in May.

"January was pretty busy but May and June have been really busy as well," said Heather Hadley, a budtender at Marisol Therapeutics.

Rick Hooper, general manager of The Spot, agrees. "Colorado's on the move because of this movement, this very important movement."

But some Pueblo West residents are tired of seeing the proliferation of stores in their community.

"It comes down to being represented and I think the folks in Pueblo West feel like we have been put in a situation we never wanted to be in," said Paula McPheeters.

McPheeters represents Pueblo for Positive Impact, a group of concerned citizens in Pueblo West. She believes county commissioners should have asked voters whether to allow shops in the county before approving them.

"They're not going to undo what's already been done. The fear that I have is they're going to continue to add," she said.

Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk Taylor agrees. "How many dispensaries do we need in a community of this size?"

Public consumption of marijuana is still illegal under Amendment 64. Pueblo police have issued 99 citations for public consumption this year compared to 104 citations at this time last year.

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