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Other towns face Colorado Springs marijuana problems

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Colorado Springs isn’t alone in banning cannabis clubs. Washington state did so last summer, and Portland, Ore., followed suit this month.

Englewood, Colo., was set to ban them but decided to extend its moratorium to June 15 while it explores how to regulate them instead.

But while the Colorado Springs City Council on Tuesday ordered cannabis clubs to phase out their businesses over the next eight years, Denver residents will vote Nov. 8 on an initiative to license and regulate the clubs.

Under the Denver Responsible Use Initiative, sponsored by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, NORML, the social clubs couldn’t sell or distribute marijuana and would have to pay licensing fees. A permit also would become available for pot use during special events.

Meanwhile, proposed state legislation by Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont, aims to create licenses for private clubs that could sell only 1 gram of marijuana, ¼-gram of pot concentrate or 100 milligrams of a marijuana product per patron per visit – all to be consumed on-site.

The club would have to buy its marijuana from a licensed retail entity or acquire its own marijuana cultivation license. Thus the drug would be tracked, as is all medical and legal recreational pot throughout Colorado.

Local jurisdictions still would have ultimate authority, though, so Colorado Springs could keep its ban.

Legalization of cannabis consumption clubs in Denver, Colorado or both could generate millions of dollars, if recreational and medical marijuana enterprises are any gauge.

This February alone, the state counted more than $12 million in taxes, licenses and fees from marijuana businesses. That was up 41.6 percent from the $8.8 million amassed in February 2015.

Last year, $996 million worth of marijuana was sold in Colorado, The Denver Post reported last month.

Olympic City USA doesn’t allow recreational sales, because the Colorado Springs City Council opted out in July 2013 in a 5-4 vote. The ban was backed by Don Knight, Merv Bennett and Andres Pico, who still are on the council, and Val Snider and Joel Miller. It was opposed by Jill Gaebler, Helen Collins and Keith King, also still on the council, plus Jan Martin.

In adjacent Manitou Springs, two retail pot stores boosted sales tax revenues by 62 percent, from $2.4 million in 2014 to more than $3.8 million last year.

“It’s been an incredible shot in the arm for Manitou,” said former Mayor Marc Snyder.

Meanwhile, Colorado Springs collected $166,343 in medical marijuana sales tax revenue this January, up 31 percent from $126,830 in January 2015.

The Colorado Cannabis Cup, a festival held each April for the past three years, is morphing into the California Cannabis Cup. The sponsor, High Times magazine, couldn’t get a permit in Denver, so it turned to Pueblo County. But that permit wasn’t produced promptly enough for them.

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