For months we’ve been seeing a bit of back and forth controversy when it comes to the city of Pueblo, Colorado. A rural city within the larger Pueblo County area, it has seen a great boost in economy due to the growing cannabis industry – unfortunately, some of the residents are not quite as fond of the herb as the rest of us are. A group called Citizens for Healthy Pueblo formed months ago in hopes of getting a ballot initiative on the city ballots in November which would effectively ban all marijuana cultivation, processing, testing and retail businesses within the city and county limits alike.
The initiative will be seen on this November’s ballot – even if the city has already voted for it once, this group refuses to let go of a prohibitionist outlook. They don’t want to see the boost in economy, the jobs created by the industry, the entrepreneurs who have flourished in the area since recreational marijuana was legalized – or even the grants for high school students to go to college, which have been funded entirely off revenue from local marijuana taxes.
“I think it has not made our community better,” said Charlene Graham of Citizens for Healthy Pueblo. “I think it has made it very different with the homelessness, people on the street corners, the emergency rooms having to deal with so many overdoses and psychosis.”
Along with the initiative by Citizens for Healthy Pueblo, two other initiatives will appear on the November ballot for voter consideration. The first is very similar to the one presented already – however it will only ban retail shops within city limits – so it doesn’t go nearly as far as the other and may turn out to be a middle ground if there are enough voters in favor of a ban. While it would be unfortunate to see the area’s industry restricted in that way, it would at least be better than having all forms of industry jobs stripped from the entire city and county.
The other initiative being considered is one that would create a 4.3% tax on retail marijuana products within the city. This would be on top of other taxes already imposed – but as we’ve seen in the past, Pueblo is extremely good at allocating their tax funds to places that truly need it – and most people who smoke cannabis are perfectly happy to pay a higher tax if it will benefit their community in a positive way. Out of all the initiatives, this is probably the one that would do the least damage to the industry and do the most for the community. For now, all these issues should be considered by residents of Pueblo as they will be in the hands of the voters this November.