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Residents weigh pros, cons of pot in Manitou

Residents weigh pros and cons of pot in Manitou

MANITOU SPRINGS, Colo. - The fate of recreational marijuana in Manitou Springs remained hazy Wednesday, but its residents said they know what they want for their city.

Residents thought they would get an answer from City Council last night. Instead, council turned the question to voters, passing a resolution to add a question to November's ballot addressing recreational pot. The question will ask if the city should put a sales tax on recreational marijuana.

City Council also gave an initial nod of approval to a temporary ban, or moratorium, on recreational pot. It would temporarily ban recreational pot until Dec. 31, 2013. The ban would allow council to wait until after the sales tax vote results are in to make a decision. The ordinance needs a second vote of approval before going into effect.

Voters will have to answer the question in November. However, many said Wednesday they already had their minds made up.

Some residents see recreational pot as a money-maker for the city.

"I think in light of the floods and everything else, we need all the revenue that we can get," said resident Fairlight DeTorres.

Others think differently.

"To me, it's the worst thing I can think of for our children and our grandchildren," said resident Jimmy Day.

More than 60 percent of Manitou Springs voters approved recreational marijuana with the passing of Amendment 64 last November. Resident Bryant Jones said this decision isn't about pot.

"I think it shouldn't even be a question. If the people have spoke, it's more of a question of if the constitution is still valid or not," said Jones.

Carol Nelson was concerned it would draw a bad crowd to her neighborhood.

"I don't want marijuana in this city. There are too many kids (in Manitou) and what kind of message do we send to these kids? We're saying, 'Oh it's alright to have dope,'" said Nelson.

Nelson said even if there was a sales tax on recreational pot, it wouldn't change her mind.

"We have a lot of sales tax here. It's a 7 1/2 (percent) sales tax here. That's pretty high. And I don't think we need it," said Nelson.

Adrian Alexander disagreed. He thinks recreational pot could lower crime in the city.

"It seems like the cops are paying more attention to people just smoking a joint. I think it will free up a lot of the police's time for them to focus on a lot more important things," said Alexander.

City Council may hold a special meeting Aug. 27 where the public will be able to share their opinion on the moratorium. Otherwise, there will be a public hearing at the City Council meeting Sept. 3 before council votes on the ordinance a second time.

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