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Manitou council approves sale of recreational marijuana

By Chris Loveless, Digital Content Director , c.loveless@krdo.com
Carl Winder, Multimedia Journalist, carl.winder@krdo.com
Published On: Jan 21 2014 11:24:19 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 22 2014 11:11:39 AM CST

MGN online / KRDO.com

MANITOU SPRINGS, Colo. -

Manitou Springs City Council voted 6-1 Tuesday night (1/21/14) to allow recreational marijuana shops in the city.

Councilman Gary Smith was the only person to vote against it.

"I have to support the decision because it was the majority of the council, I don't agree with it, but I have to support it and move forward," Smith said.

The moratorium on selling recreational marijuana is still in effect until five days after the ordinance is published.

Terms in the ordinance are as follows: Marijuana stores can't open before 8 a.m. or after 7 p.m., pot shops can't sell marijuana to people under 21, people can only buy marijuana once-a-day, and a pot shop can't open within 500 feet of a private or public school.

Mayor Marc Snyder said the ordinance should be published on Wednesday (01/22/14).

Manitou Springs has capped the number of recreational marijuana stores at two.

Snyder said it is going to be lengthy process before the first store opens.

The mayor said store owners have to comply with state requirements, complete an application from Manitou Springs, have a meeting with the city's planning commission and have a conditional use hearing with Manitou Springs City Council.

A store owner will also have to be licensed for medical marijuana before applying.

Councilwoman Coreen Toll said the two stores that open will be charged $5,000 per year for operation fees. That money will go toward the enforcement of the marijuana ordinance.

Opponents of retail marijuana plan to launch an effort in February to put the decision up for a vote in November.

Garden of the Gods Trading Post owner Tim Haas said he, along with other people who oppose the sale of recreational marijuana, have started a petition.

"There is a relatively small number required, and we are going to exceed that number by quite a bit, and we are going to submit those signatures in early June for review and there should be a question on the ballot in November," Haas said.

Snyder said he is ready for anyone opposing the sale of recreational pot.

"I think it will be informative for the voters if that petition moves forward and be on the November ballot. We will hopefully have these two stores open and up for several months so people can make an informative decision on the vote," the mayor said.

Joel Aigner is happy that recreational marijuana can be sold in Manitou Springs.

"It's a wonderful thing to see the will of the people being respected in Manitou, and to see that Manitou is going to give people another economic drive that some of those in Colorado Springs wish we all had," Aigner said.

Michael Burgess believes recreational pot will be a cash cow.

"I think when you look at the flooding and fire issue, a lot of people may not want to come here and the fact that we are going to have recreational marijuana available may make (people who oppose the sale of recreational pot) change their minds and let them see more standard tourism numbers." Burgess said.

Tuesday night's vote makes Manitou Springs the only city in El Paso County to vote to allow recreational marijuana retail shops. The only other place to allow it in southern Colorado is Pueblo County.

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