Locals React To Manitou Springs' Decision On Recreational Pot

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The Manitou Springs City Council has approved the sale of recreational marijuana in the city.

The vote Tuesday night was 6 to 1, and makes Manitou Springs the first town in El Paso County to allow retail sale of pot. Colorado Springs voted it down last year.

Reaction in the community has been mixed. Supporters say it could help the town's economy, which has struggled since the flooding last summer.

"I think there will definitely be some tourism with it," Bill Conkling, the owner of medical marijuana shop Maggie's Farm, said.

"I believe it will be great for Manitou...bring plenty of business to the town, the family businesses, and it will help the schools here," Aaron Bowles-Jacks said.

Others saw Manitou Springs as being on the right side of history.

"It's something that's been in the making for a long time now," Eric Cook said. "History has been said today and I'm glad to be a part of it."

Detractors said they didn't feel like the city government had given them a true voice in the matter.

“I feel like most of you have not listened," one citizen said during the meeting ahead of the vote. "You are assuming that because Amendment 64 passed you assume we want the sale of marijuana for recreation in our town."

Several other voiced opposition at the meeting, which began at 7 p.m. Council members took public input before finally voting just after 10 p.m.

"You are not representing me or my family by moving this forward," another who took to the podium said.

Those against told 11 News that they plan to fight this with a petition.

“We’re going to get enough signatures on a petition to be able to bring it to a vote in November," Renee Meyers said. "Then we’ll see what the real feeling is of all the people in the city.”

Supporters said the sales tax will be a big boost for the town, and believed that the community would be responsible about recreational marijuana.

"I'm grateful for the chance to show them they picked a good operator, a good business owner, and that we can operate responsibly."

“I’m confident that the regulatory and licensing scheme that we passed will address at least everything that we can foresee," Mayor Marc Snyder said. "We’re going to try and keep a real tight lid on this and be ready to react in case we do experience any negative consequences.”

The law takes effect in five days, but the mayor says there's still much work to be done on the details.

Once it takes effect, the owners of the two current licensed medical marijuana shops on the east end of Manitou can come in and apply to convert to a retail shop or obtain a dual license to run both medical and retail. Until July 1, these two existing medical marijuana shops are the only ones that can apply for a license.

Snyder said city council plans to have more discussion on the guidelines for public consumption.

We'll be keeping an eye on all the new developments out of Manitou Springs.