Hot SheetMarijuana

Colorado town to vote again on recreational marijuana sales

Author: Rachel Riley, The Gazette - August 21, 2018 - Updated: August 21, 2018

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Palmer Lake residents will vote Nov. 6 for a third time on whether to allow recreational marijuana sales in the small foothills town.

About 170 residents signed a petition to put the question on the ballot to permit up to two such retailers.

Residents voted against local sales of recreational marijuana in April 2014 and instituted a moratorium that fall on recreational pot sales.

The town of about 2,500 again voted down recreational pot sales two years later by a margin of 916 to 714, said Palmer Lake Administrator Cathy Green.

The town’s sole medical marijuana dispensary, Palmer Lake Wellness Center, worked with a local wholesale grower to collect signatures for the petition.

Just over 100 signatures were needed, said Town Clerk Verla Bruner.

Dino Salvatori, owner of Palmer Lake Wellness Center, said the public perception of recreational marijuana has “changed dramatically” in a positive way since the town last voted down allowing retailers.

Just one pot shop would create dozens of job and add “much-needed” sales tax revenue to town coffers, Salvatori said.

“It’s a good deal for the town,” he said.

Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana, or CALM Palmer Lake, objected to the past measures.

The group did not respond to a message sent through its website late Monday afternoon. The website’s homepage notes that the federal government continues to recognize marijuana as an illegal Schedule I drug.

“Schedule I drugs are classified as having a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment, and a lack of accepted safety for use,” the posting states.

“After decades of study the FDA continues to reaffirm that there is no medical benefit provided by the use of smoked marijuana and that, in fact, considerable harm can be caused by such use.”

El Paso County is home to two recreational marijuana shops, both in Manitou Springs, the only municipality in the county that has voted to allow the retailers. About 70 of the state’s municipalities — including Denver, Fort Collins and Pueblo — allow recreational sales, according to the Colorado Municipal League.

Palmer Lake’s Board of Trustees also has referred a measure to the ballot seeking voter approval of a 5 percent sales tax on recreational marijuana sales if the pot shop measure passes.

That sales tax would be in addition to the city’s 3 percent general sales tax, as well as a 15 percent statewide sales tax on recreational marijuana. The county’s 1.23 percent sales tax also would apply, county spokesman Dave Rose confirmed.

That would amount to at least 24.23 percent in sales taxes on Palmer Lake recreational pot.

By comparison, Manitou Springs shops pay 27.13 percent in cumulative sales taxes, including a 6 percent tax levied by the city that is marijuana-specific and a 1 percent sales tax levied by the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority, of which Palmer Lake is not a part.

Rachel Riley, The Gazette

Rachel Riley, The Gazette