Dry Towns Dampen Pot’s Spread

Some Colorado cities, where residents voted in favor of marijuana legalization, are now banning recreational sale, opening a new front in the battle to change U.S. drug laws.

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Last November, two of the brightest spots for the movement to change drug laws in the United States came in Washington and Colorado, where state residents voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.

Now that the Department of Justice has said it won’t oppose regulated marijuana use in the two states, there’s another battle brewing over the fight for legalization in America. It happens to be taking place in Colorado once again.

Already 102 localities, including nine of the ten largest cities in the western state which are home to more than one in five Coloradans, have banned or placed a moratorium on the retail sale of marijuana, according to data compiled by Sensible Colorado, a pro-legalization advocacy group.

The bans have hit some towns that voted for legalization in a ballot measure known as Amendment 64 last November. Cities and towns have until Oct. 1 to decide whether they will be dry when retail marijuana sales become legal on Jan. 1, 2014.

The patchwork of bans and moratoriums will leave some residents several hours from the nearest legal store, a distance that supporters of legalization say will allow the black market, and the criminal activity which may accompany it, to thrive. Activists are spreading throughout the state to defend the law and encourage city councils and town mayors to allow recreational sales.

“I don’t see people traveling long distances to obtain a substance that is available before prohibition and after prohibition,” said Art Way, Colorado manager of the Drug Policy Alliance. “The message is, by opting out, you’re allowing the black market to continue in your communities, and you’re also foregoing tax revenue.”

Though Amendment 64 passed by a ten-point margin and was approved by 35 out of 64 counties, convincing city councils to allow retail sale has proven difficult in many places.

Colorado Springs, for instance, supported the law and has allowed medical marijuana dispensaries for years, but the city council there has opted out. In the town of Avon, where voters overwhelmingly supported Amendment 64, the city council chose to wait until September 2014 to decide.

Sensible Colorado has dispatched hundreds of volunteers to lobby local officials to their side. Their biggest disappointment so far has come in Colorado Springs, the state’s second largest city.

“That was kind of our white whale,” said Sensible Colorado’s Brian Vicente, a lawyer who was an author of Amendment 64.

Advocates predict that the bans will be temporary as local governments watch to see what happens to neighbors who allow recreational sales. Municipalities may also be pressured by residents who don’t want to miss out on tax revenue to the town down the road. Eventually, supporters say, retail marijuana in Colorado will look much like alcohol sales in some states: a few dry counties scattered among districts that do sell alcohol.

But supporters have to level their optimism against people like Val Vigil, a city council member in Thornton. The 66-year-old Democrat says he doesn’t support legal sales because, “I don’t believe in the product.”

The council voted unanimously in January to impose a two-year moratorium despite popular support for Amendment 64, saying at the time that it would wait for the state to finalize regulations around the drug (the Department of Revenue released detailed retail regulations on Monday).

The city plans to reconsider the moratorium in early 2014, but Vigil said he’s unlikely to change his mind. Residents supported parts of the law that allow for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana without wanting retailers popping up next door, Vigil said.

“We do predict that this fight will continue on,” Vicente said, acknowledging that the effort to court local councils will continue long after the Oct. 1 deadline. “But it’s important for us to get some of these towns moving forward on the timeline that we think voters anticipated.”

45 comments
PaigeDillon
PaigeDillon

City Council is not listening to its voters?  Time to hold a recall election.  I love how getting elected seems to make some people entitled to impose their will on people instead of upholding the will of the people. 

cherfunalot
cherfunalot

Can't wait to get to Colorado and set up an illegal marijuana distribution system for those cities where the morons running them are willing to pass up tons of tax revenue and increase violent crime at the same time. 

DawsonDarling
DawsonDarling

But wherever shall we get our free prison labor?

JamesMcVaney
JamesMcVaney

This article is about the work I have been doing throughout Colorado for the last two years. I apparently need to learn how to market myself better as I am the most successful campaign manager in this field.  I can be reached through my website - mcvaneyltd.com -  I've just been so busy with a new field, industrial hemp in Colorado, that I actually thought I was done working in "canna-ban" elections.

Sensible Colorado, who I worked alongside for from 2010 until recently, has not successfully changed any municipality's decisions on any bans or moratoriums via referendum or initiative since 2009 in Breckenridge. My teams and I have though. Currently my teams just agitated Palmer Lake to repeal a ban, and Larkspur and Idaho Springs, to repeal a moratoriums. We are looking at just one "canna-permit" election this November, while there will be multiple ones in April. I was also the sole person out there pushing the idea that these elections could be held at anytime - contrary to what some people where saying due to language in section 5(f) of Amendment 64 which says elections to prohibit dispensaries can only be held in even number years.

I do agree with the claim of the article, that these ban issues are the current battleground for legalization. They most definitely are. However the democratic process is alive and well, and it is through that process that we are able to defeat and change prohibitions with relative ease and very little, if any, money. 

If you live in a place where cannabis is banned and want to change that, by all means contact me.  

JohnThomas
JohnThomas

This is a great example of how the one-percent have destroyed freedom in this country.  I'd bet a year's salary that if the issue were put to a vote in the majority of these towns doing the banning, the people would choose to have dispensaries.

It's time to throw out the plutocratic thugs that have usurped our government!

LyndaLBDuke
LyndaLBDuke

It may be "sour grapes" but...I also see it as a big mistake.  The sale of Marijuana could easily GENERATE tax dollars badly needed TO FIX SOME BROKEN DAMS.  Money that the state of Colorado was DENIED BY THE GOP!

CliftonMiddleton
CliftonMiddleton

This is just sour grapes, conservatives actually hate freedom and liberty and are mad that the rest of the people either like pot or do not think folks should go to jail for a plant.

bluecollarbytes
bluecollarbytes

Towns and cities must be allowed to  decide for themselves the extent to which they will condone various retail-marijuana policies.  The way forward requires compromises.

cslagenhop
cslagenhop

Recall is always an option when government officials ignore the people or trample their rights.

MalcolmKyle
MalcolmKyle

* Even though Sweden has some of the most draconic drug laws on the planet, drug crime and usage rates continue to climb.

A recent survey shows that 40 percent of boys in certain inner-city secondary schools in Stockholm have experimented with illegal drugs. This is a 10 percent rise in just 4 years.

The Stockholm based Maria Ungdom clinic has labeled this development as an ‘epidemic’.

‘When enough people are using it, you reach a point where it’s considered socially acceptable. I think we’re nearing that point. Marijuana is no longer seen as stigmatizing, since so many are using it. The same kids who’re trying alcohol are now trying marijuana."

-- Stefan Sparring, the manager of Stockholm's Maria Ungdom clinic.


See: http://www.thelocal.se/34992/20110717/


* In November 2012, the Swedish National Bureau of Investigation (Rikskriminalpolisen) says that reports of home-grown marijuana in Sweden have quadrupled in just 10 years, they claim there is now enough domestically-grown marijuana to supply the needs of all Sweden's pot-smokers.

See: http://www.thelocal.se/44370

CynthiaAvishegnath
CynthiaAvishegnath

Maine is a state where price of alcoholic beverages is regulated to ensure its availability (besides ensuring unavailability to minors). There are 19 other states that regulate alcohol sales, but I do not know how many regulate the prices.

Unaware of the history since Prohibition, my mental experiments tells me that after Prohibition, prices of alcohol must have been shooting thro the roof - alcohol, a beverage seen as essential to keeping sanity thro the cold harsh winters of northern New England.

Would a day come, where states would regulate the price of pot, as soon as the fed govt decriminalize and removes it from the list of regulated substances?


shellyallen35
shellyallen35

Well, if the majority really wins then georgie junior wouldn't have been president! ... politics aside, when considering which person I would rather encounter walking down a street I would choose the one who is high on pot WAY over a drunk. I have often encountered belligerent drinkers, I have NEVER encountered a belligerent smoker. At the core of the whole debate is the inability of the "authorities" to quantify the degree of "stonedness" and the fact that, because it's a weed, anyone can grow it, thus depriving the government of yet another source of taxable product....Geeeze!!! They do their jobs more poorly than most deadbeat employees ANYWHERE, yet vote themselves huge pay increases (at our expense) and bonuses!  It would be nice if the majority really ruled, but truth be told, it does not. Lobbyists for big business and the monsters they work for rule, and most of them have the government officials in their pockets. Check out the Golden Turkey Awards or how many of our government "leaders" are under indictment for everything from writing bad checks to fraud and embezzlement and more. An honest bunch they are NOT.  

ssgret
ssgret

Simply put... any elected official is the voice of the people.  If said elected official does not do what the majority wants, at the next election they will be out of a job.  This country was founded on democracy.  The majority wins, end of story.  I bet the next elected official will be more than happy to push the bill through (as long as it's legal).

US1776
US1776

These cities need to stop being threatened by the Feds.

The Feds have backed off.

ALL of the drug prohibition laws are unconstitutional.

And back during alcohol prohibition they knew it and that is why they created a constitutional amendment in order to make the prohibition legal.

Send money out of the country, encouraging black markets, and helping to promote the ongoing cycle of drug gang violence is not in any community's best interest.

LEGALIZE and TAX NOW !!


.

NormanGooding
NormanGooding

Somewhere over the rainbow man will figure out you cannot control a plant that grows anywhere and can be grown for pennies a gram and sold for $20 a gram,,unless you take the money out of it. The only way to accomplish removing the illegal market for marijuana is to flood the market with more cheap good marijuana than users require,,,but tax hungry legislators are not going to let that happen.

They will over regulate and over tax marijuana so much that an illegal market will exist because what we are seeing in CO and WA already proves this,,street dealers can raise their prices and still undersell the retail prices estimated so far.

ToddWest
ToddWest

Internet search Federal Intoxicants Act, it allows anyone to grow this herb with a federal license.  It removes "retail" drug trade except for states that want that.  Allowing some people somewhere to skirt the national law which applies to all within the nation, while severely penalizing, imprisoning, and harassing others for the same law, is a civil rights lawsuit waiting to happen. Permit and license to grow cannabis, most problems, statewide and national, disappear, if done right.

allmymagicis
allmymagicis

Why pay tax on something that grows for pennies?

JordanMaynard
JordanMaynard

Most cities are not voting against so much as they are voting for moratoriums until sufficient controls and laws are in place to manage and enforce the new industry.

CarolineNees
CarolineNees

Reminds me of "dry" counties in Kansas, I think there are some left. This has never stopped anyone from buying and consuming alcohol. They just take their money and get what they want in the next town over. Just a little inconvenience, nothing more.

mrxexon
mrxexon

These communities will learn the hard way. 

My hometown back in Alabama recently voted to go wet for the first time since 1933. It took that many years to push back against the biblethumpers who kept it dry for so long. So is the case here.

It's a tug of war for opinion right now. For every politician that says no, that politician can be voted out. It will take time however. And there may eventually be dry counties. But at the end of the day, every town has to balance it's books. It will be economics that decides this in the end. Not religion. Not morality. Not legality.

Economics.

x

KelleyDavis
KelleyDavis

Money will talk and this BS will walk. 

Cyssi
Cyssi

SO.....basically the towns opting out are saying that they would rather deal with cartel weed than that of the elderly couple supplementing their social security down the street. Wow, it doesn't take a brain trust to see this isn't very well thought out.  

ManuelGarciaO'Kelly
ManuelGarciaO'Kelly

Monied interests are at stake here: the pants-wetters are those who have invested their lives in trying to win the war on drugs. Now that their support is crumbling with the exposure of their LIES, their jobs and manliness as drug warriors is crumbling.

Plus, legalizing weed takes away their best weapon, the threat of jail to users and low level dealers..."Tell, or you will do 20 YEARS!"

But we should have compassion for pants-wetters, and some tax dollars MUST be spent providing them with critical Grief Therapy, and perhaps retraining into useful, productive and MEANINGFUL jobs in the private sector.

It is only fair!

NormanGooding
NormanGooding

All those towns that banned pot sales will still have marijuana sold in them but by people that don't check ID's and don't pay taxes.

JamesMcVaney
JamesMcVaney

@JohnThomas I think it all gets down to knowledge of the process- and especially in a public arena like this. Unfortunately few citizens know how to successfully advocate for change. 

As for why the places are banning it instead of going with the majority of voters, generally, it is because the sitting council/board members do not want to allow it for personal reasons, or to be known as the people who initially allowed it. This is expected out of sitting government officials as they are not a group known for being able to look to the future for answers, and when one looks back, one sees prohibition. So, because we are at this point in time, generally, I wouldn't waste time lobbying these people.

CliftonMiddleton
CliftonMiddleton

@ssgret This is a falacy, elected officials should represent the entire population not just the majority; that means compromise and if that means no one ever gets reelected then the country would be a better place..... think about it, the idea that a government official only represents his supporters is not a Republic but a gang of checking sucking politicians.

CynthiaAvishegnath
CynthiaAvishegnath

"This country was founded on democracy".

I like that phrase. I believe in that phrase. I want to believe it is true. That phrase is truer in this country than in Russia and many other countries.

However, there are people who disagree. They say we are merely living an a facade of democracy. In reality, they say, we are no different than Russia, except American oligarchs play the game more elegantly and deceitfully. Russias don't bother to make their public places look nice. Go to any govt assisted housing complex in Russia and compare them with NYC's.

Sometimes their arguments get to me, into my head and I start to believe them. Is my country a facade of democracy. It plays in my head everyday and everyday I try new reasons to reject its claims.


US1776
US1776

@NormanGooding  WRONG.

Alcohol is perfectly regulated and taxed and available for adult consumption.

And there's nobody bootlegging whiskey from their car trunk unless maybe you live in the mountains of Tennessee.


.

ssgret
ssgret

@allmymagicis the reason that you pay taxes on something that grows for pennies is so that you can do it legally.  I am sure that they will have severe punishments for non-licensed / illegal growers just to make the point to pay the taxes or don't do it.  Is it fair... not really, but just think of it as a luxury tax.

ToddWest
ToddWest

@JordanMaynard  cannabis, except for commercial hemp growing for consumer products, should not be an industry, as it is a narcotic drug.  You should be able to be permitted to grow it and be done with it, not allow some wild west semi-legal narcotics trade posing as "medical", which is what you have when cannabis is "retailed"

CarolineNees
CarolineNees

Super comment. Hope you don't mind if I steal that one. Super!

Duncan20903
Duncan20903

@Cyssi I don't think that I've ever heard of anyone accusing a sycophant of prohibition of being able to think.

Solipsist
Solipsist

@ManuelGarciaO'Kelly The support for keeping illegal drugs illegal comes from organized crime, today, as it did for the passage of the Volstead Act that resulted later in Prohibition.  Organized crime profited hugely from Prohibition and it continues to profit from illegal drugs today.  A huge federal bureaucracy has grown up to fight the War on Drugs, and both sides, organized government and organize crime, want to keep the status quo, as profits are huge on both sides of the battle.  The NRA has not taken a public stance on the War on Drugs, but the weapons manufacturers certainly want to continue this war since each side is buying weapons and the manufacturer backers of the NRA certainly must love that.

ssgret
ssgret

@ChristinaReddy you look a little old to be a Justin Beiber fan!  Are you promoting your web-site or something or do you just post this link on everything to promote the Beibs?  JC!

ToddWest
ToddWest

@NormanGooding  yup, just like most states in the union.  In Georgia, high grade cannabis is everywhere, cartel herb is half priced what it was a year ago....massive, massive, drug war failure.  Permit to grow it at the federal level, and be done with it.

JohnThomas
JohnThomas

@JamesMcVaney @JohnThomas  - You have a better opinion of prohibitionists than I do.  I believe the opposition is primarily acting on orders of groups who profit tremendously from the war on Americans (who prefer buds to Budweiser).   - Police, prosecutors, prisons, the industries of alcohol, pharmaceuticals, drug testing and "treatment," banks and other corporations that launder money, and the drug gangs themselves.

For a good view underneath the ice burg, see Catherine Austin Fitts' excellent article: "Narco Dollars For Beginners." - keeping in mind that while Fitts employs cocaine because it best suits her metaphor, FBI statistics show marijuana sales comprise 80 percent of all "illegal" drug transactions.

http://www.ratical.org/co-globalize/narcoDollars.html

These parasites are feeding at the trough of blood-money.  Of course we'll have to drag them kicking and screaming away from their gorging.

JamesMcVaney
JamesMcVaney

@CynthiaAvishegnath Democracy is alive and well in America at a local and State level. Just get involved! Get involved by volunteering, and if you find through that volunteering you find you are truly interested in that issue, opportunities to continue your advocacy will surely present themselves. 

ShadowWalker343
ShadowWalker343

@ToddWestLegally speaking, Marijuana is NOT a narcotic. Marijuana is essentially Cannabis and thus Cannabis is not a narcotic either. The definition of the word Narcotic can be a noun or an adjective. Therefore, marijuana could be used in speech as being a narcotic(As you did. w/out understanding that it legally isn't.), but the word in legal terms would not apply. In the Federal Controlled Substances Act;  Marijuana is listed as a non-narcotic. P.S. The legalization in Colorado isn't for medical use, as that has been legal for a few years, it is now legal there for social use, just as alcohol is...without the negative medical effects, anger or near as much impairment. 

Solipsist
Solipsist

@ToddWest @JordanMaynard Tobacco and alcohol are both, strictly speaking, "narcotic" by the effects on the human body, but the term is imprecisely used today to denote illegal drugs only.  Marijuana does have specific medicinal uses and the acitve ingredient, THC, is very useful in pain management and in some nervous system conditions, prescribed for that use by doctors.

ssgret
ssgret

@CarolineNees you must be young.  KellyDavis' comment is quite old and well circulated.  The old adage is "Money talks, BS walks" and that is just an adaptation.  Keep up the good work educating our young KellyDavis!  Next up... "Conjunction Junction"!

Solipsist
Solipsist

@ToddWest @NormanGoodingConcur, in general, though the drug war was a failure at its beginning.  With the great length of the borders of the US, it is unlikely that total interdiction of drug smuggling can succeed.

The United States & Canada border is 5,225 miles long.
The United States & Mexico border is 1,969 miles long.
The United States entire coastlines length is 12,383 miles long,

Therefore the total miles of borders of the USA is 19,577 miles

During the Napoleonic Wars, the English Channel saw a huge increase in smuggling of goods of all kinds that was officially prohibitied by both England and France.  With the great need to feed both countries with fishing industry, the fishermen conducted smuggling with impunity and to great profit.

JohnThomas
JohnThomas

@JamesMcVaney @JohnThomas   Thanks for your input and work.  - I've been researching and debating marijuana policy in the most visible Internet forums since 1997.  I have seen testimony from insiders over the years that confirm the active opposition by all the groups I have named.  Much of it is deeply behind the scenes.   Other groups, as you say, are more out in the open with it.  We saw how beer brewers contributed to defeating California's Prop 19 in 2010.

If you read the Fitts article I linked, I'd be interested in your take on it. 

"The Latin American drug cartels have stretched their tentacles much deeper into our lives than most people believe. It's possible they are calling the shots at all levels of government."
- William Colby, former CIA Director, 1995

JamesMcVaney
JamesMcVaney

@JohnThomas A lot of people think the same people are behind prohibition. However, from my experience on the campaign trail these last 3 years in Colorado, I have only seen the law enforcement, and drug treatment types actively lobbying against cannabis. Surprisingly the drug companies have stayed away. Perhaps this is because the main drugs that marijuana will be replacing (pain killers/sleep aids) are no longer patent-able? 

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