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Local leaders react to Justice Dept. pot ruling

By Lindsay Watts, Weekend GMC Anchor/Target 13 Investigator , l.watts@krdo.com
Published On: Aug 30 2013 05:56:54 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 30 2013 06:02:24 PM CDT

The justice department says it won't stand in the way of Colorado's marijuana laws, but what about the local elected leaders who said, "Not in my community?"

EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. -

The Justice Department says it won't stand in the way of Colorado's marijuana laws, but could that sway local elected leaders who voted to ban the sale of recreational pot?

Politicians KRDO talked to Friday didn't consider the decision as definitive and monumental as marijuana supporters, pointing out that while policy has changed, federal drug law has not and wondering if a new attorney general will reverse the policy in the future.

"I think there are still a lot of pitfalls here where the feds could decide to get involved," said El Paso County Commissioner Dennis Hisey.

El Paso County commissioners voted four-to-one to ban retail marijuana shops, and after that, many other counties and cities in southern Colorado follow suit. Hisey said his decision to vote for the ban has not been impacted.

"Banks still will not be taking money from those dealers because it affects their FDIC ability to guarantee funds," Hisey said. "So it really doesn't solve the federal issue."

Peggy Littleton was the only commissioner to vote in favor of recreational pot sales.

"The reason being is that I think we still have a lot of information to collect," Littleton said.

She said even at this point, more questions remain that keep her from supporting retail marijuana shops from opening.

"They can come in and say that they're not going to prosecute recreational stores or recreational users, however, what change in administration in the future could possibly have us go back and say, 'Well now we really didn't mean that?'" said Littleton. "People have put in time, effort and money putting recreational stores in and they could risk losing everything."

KRDO also spoke to several Colorado Springs city council members who voted to ban recreational pot sales who shared similar view points---saying while federal policy has changed, federal law has not.

Colorado Springs, Woodland Park, Monument, Green Mountain Falls and Palmer Lake have all opted out of retail pot sales, while the city of Pueblo has a moratorium.
Manitou Springs will leave the decision up to voters in November.  Trinidad is still undecided.

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