Littleton City Council denies will of majority of voters (again)

Author: Jennifer Kerns - May 18, 2016 - Updated: May 19, 2016

A crowd of citizens attend a city council meeting Tuesday night. Five city council members voted to stand between the current ban and the people's vote to support retail marijuana sales. (Jennifer Kerns/The Colorado Statesman)
A crowd of citizens attend a city council meeting Tuesday night. Five city council members voted to stand between the current ban and the people’s vote to support retail marijuana sales. (Jennifer Kerns/The Colorado Statesman)

Littleton’s city council once again denied the will of its voters when they killed a proposal last night to lift the city’s three-year ban on retail marijuana sales inside city limits.

The shocking 1-5 vote followed the second reading of draft ordinance 4-2016 before a standing room only overflow crowd that packed the chambers.

The plan would have allowed existing medical marijuana facilities already operating inside Littleton city limits to offer retail sales to the public as well. Under the plan, only existing facilities who service medical clients would have been allowed to expand into retail sales; no new pot shops would have been permitted in Littleton.

With their vote, city council members slammed the door on weeks of discussion about public safety and the benefits of tax revenue to community parks, schools and roads. The city would have benefited from ordinary tax revenue as well as a three percent additional sales tax on the retail product which voters supported.

“We are beyond frustrated with city council’s vote Tuesday to not honor the will of the voters to allow recreational marijuana sales in Littleton,” said Eric Speidell, co-CEO of The Green Solution, a medical marijuana dispensary already operating in Littleton. Speidell has become a fixture at Littleton City Council meetings along with his brother and fellow CEO, Kyle Speidell. “They chose to ignore the facts and let personal bias get in the way of progress.”

In recent weeks, Councilwoman Debbie Brinkman led the crusade against lifting the ban citing that she remained “vehemently opposed” to marijuana and has stated many times that she is personally against it.

For now, Littleton residents will not get to purchase the retail product within the city nor enjoy additional tax revenue from its sale.

It has been a long time coming for Littleton residents who continue to vote in support of choice for retail marijuana but continue to be prevented from buying it locally.

In 2012, voters there passed the state’s Amendment 64 — which legalized the sale of recreational marijuana — by more than 50 percent of the vote.

In 2013, the city council immediately slapped a moratorium on retail sales, then made the ban permanent the following year.

Despite the reach of the city council, Littleton voters continued to vote with the rest of the state in support of choice. Littleton voters also supported Amendment 20 to allow medical marijuana in Colorado. Voters also supported Ballot Issue 2E to allow an additional tax on retail sales in Littleton. In recent weeks, the Historic Downtown Littleton Merchants Association also voted overwhelmingly 29-5 to lift the city’s ban.

“I am disappointed with the outcome of last night’s city council vote on recreational marijuana sales in Littleton,” said Stan Zislis, owner of Silver Stem Fine Cannabis, a medicinal marijuana dispensary in Littleton. Zislis was one of several business owners who have repeatedly presented evidence to the council demonstrating the industry’s exemplary business practices to date which include zero law enforcement calls, public complaints, or incidents in Littleton. He also hauled to the city council dias last night 1,100 letters from Littleton residents who support lifting the retail ban.

Whether this issue will be presented to voters to yet again consider via ballot measure remains to be seen.

For now, Littleton taxpayers and business owners won’t see the green they had hoped for.

“It is discouraging that the leaders of Littleton did not listen to the voices of their constituents who see and want the benefits our business would bring to the city,” said Zislis. “Amendment 64 passed … and demonstrates the will of the voters. The city council should honor their wishes.”

Jennifer Kerns

Jennifer Kerns

Jennifer Kerns is an executive editor at The Colorado Statesman. She is an accomplished conservative political writer and contributor to several national publications including The Blaze, The Washington Times, and The Heritage Foundation's Daily Signal. She also served as the communications director and spokeswoman for the 2013 Colorado recall elections to defend Coloradans' Second Amendment rights.