Tag Archives: Tim Haas

Pueblo West: The Right to Ban Retail Expansion

(Part 2 on the battle to keep retail marijuana out of communities.)  Colorado has become the butt of the jokes from late night talk show hosts.  Some have gone so as to call it the vacation destination of “stoners” across America.

In the past, Colorado had been known mainly for its sporting activities and natural beauty.  “I think that [health and wellness] is a better thing for us to promote. It seems a little hypocritical, regardless of what side of the argument you want to take. There’s a lot of evidence out there that this [marijuana] may not be the greatest thing for you,” Tim Haas told me as we discussed Colorado tourism.

Haas is struggling with the problem in Manitou Springs, as our last article detailed.  Isn’t growing up to be a healthy, high functioning human being the message worth promoting to young children of Colorado?    It’s time to let Colorado communities — rather than marijuana businesses that are expanding throughout the state — to decide what is best for their individual communities.

South to Pueblo West

An hour’s drive south of Manitou Springs,  the Pueblo West Metropolitan District is fighting a similar battle.  The community of Pueblo West has been struggling with the growing number of businesses selling, growing, cultivating, or producing marijuana-infused products. The metropolitan district is already credited to having 6 recreational dispensaries, with, what seems, a new rush of marijuana licenses on the way.

When medicinal and then recreational marijuana were legalized in Pueblo County, the county created a land use code that limited stores to property zoned for specific retail uses. The result was the zoning protected Pueblo City, with limited zoning, and Pueblo West, with far more retail zoning, became the place to open shop.

“The result is businesses looking for spaces found a lot more zoned in Pueblo West than a lot of other places in the county,” Commissioner Sal Pace said. “It was an unintended consequence.” Pueblo West doesn’t want the stores, but the community of about 35,000 is stuck with them.  That’s what the resolution ended with, that acknowledgement.

While unintended, it’s nonetheless a consequence.  In the minutes of a Pueblo West Metropolitan District meeting on July 8, 2014, Sheriff Kirk Taylor for Pueblo County is recorded as saying, that he “does not think the citizens of this community have weighed in on the issue. There have been over 100 municipalities and counties that have opted out [of marijuana retailers in their areas]. The community of Pueblo County never got an opportunity to opt out. Three commissioners decided it was good for us and they started giving out licenses, and in his opinion this is wrong.”   In other words Pueblo West doesn’t want the stores it has, but the city is stuck with them.

Buyers in Pueblo West, Colo., line up on Jan. 1, 2014 to legally buy marijuana after it was approved for recreational use. (Source: AP Photo/John Wark)
Buyers in Pueblo West, Colo., line up to legally buy marijuana on Jan. 1, 2014, the day the first  recreational marijuana stores opened. (Source: AP Photo/John Wark)

Pueblo for Positive Impact (PfPI) Founder and Leader, Paula McPheeters, has been working diligently to make sure someone is standing up and speaking out for the community.  “What we want is control of our own destiny for economic development and or the future.  And we know there is way more to Pueblo West than just the marijuana industry,” said McPheeters.

Later in July, the Pueblo West Metropolitan Board finally heard its constituents and voted in favor 5-0 of a new resolution asking that the county not permit any new licensing of any additional marijuana-related facilities or operations. The resolution was passed shortly after being edited to remove a moratorium on pot shops. So while the community would still like to see the shops go somewhere else, they are still protected by the local Metropolitan Board.

The County Commissioner’s Board is beginning to feel the heat, as well, now that the local Metropolitan Board is being called to accurately represent Pueblo West’s desire to end the addition of any more pot shops in its community.  Also putting on the pressure at the County Commissioner’s Board meetings are those representing the big business behind the marijuana industry, leaving many community members wondering who their local legislators are really listening to—the people who live in their communities and voted them in, or the profiteers looking to attract pot smokers.

These Coloradans aren’t arguing whether or not they think that pot should or should not be legal, it’s about community members deciding what’s best for them and their families.

Colorado used to be the state of the Olympic Committee, one of the healthiest populations in America, known for its hiking and skiing, and its beautiful landscapes. Communities that don’t want to be a part of the pot  community and this new stereotype have the right to do so.  Coloradans are now fighting for their right to not raise their children surrounded by pot shops and marijuana grows.

Retail Marijuana Battles for the Heart of Colorado

(Part 1 on the battle to keep retail marijuana out of communities.)  Colorado’s image as a healthy place to escape smoke and pollution is under attack at its core.  Denver is not the only place where marijuana businesses are threatening the state’s image as place to pursue healthy activities.

Since its establishment in 1872, visitors have been flocking to Manitou Springs for the fresh mountain air, for rigorous hiking and for its healing waters. Manitou Springs is a darling community, founded upon the quest for healthiness, and community. It is seated at the base of Pikes Peak, just outside of Colorado Springs. Tourists may stop at several different natural springs of carbonated drinking water, each toting a distinct mineral content.

The city is also a great  destination for families. The Manitou Springs Penny Arcade and unique shops entertain the town’s guests before and after their exploration of Pikes Peak and the famous Incline. The historic center is on the National Register of Historic Places. Historical buildings are colorfully painted and restored, and the homes that perch upon the mountainside are unique to this area.  Manitou Cliff Dwelling is about five miles away.

Behind this lovely foreground is a community going to battle against the big business of marijuana. Since the approval of Amendment 64 in Colorado, legalizing marijuana, Manitou Springs has seen several medicinal marijuana dispensaries open their doors.  On August 1, 2014, Maggie’s Farm opened its doors as the first recreational marijuana retailer in their community.

Manitou Springs, CO, in 1902. From the Public Domain. Photo source: Wikipedia
Manitou Springs, CO, in 1902. From the Public Domain. Photo source: Wikipedia

Under Section 5(f), Regulation of Marijuana, Amendment 64 states:


Many communities are saying that they were not asked to vote on having marijuana retailers in their community. They disagree with those who claim that when a majority of voters in community supported Amendment 64, it signaled agreement to have marijuana retailers in that community.  Had residents known this would be the interpretation, many say they would have voted differently.

The group, No Retail Marijuana in Manitou Springs (NRMMS) came to life after the Manitou Springs City Council decided on January 21st to permit retail sale of marijuana, despite the majority of residents’ objections. It didn’t take long after the vote for local marijuana businesses to take action. The construction of Maggie’s Farm, a recreational marijuana retailer found in multiple Colorado cities, began in Manitou in May and opened its doors on August 1st. Another dispensary, Reserve 1, distributing medicinal marijuana, received a license to sell the drug for recreational use.  It  is currently looking for a larger space to expand its operation.

Many community members have voiced opposition to the City Council’s decision. Tim Haas, Treasurer of NRMMS and local business owner, says that one of the major concerns of allowing marijuana retailers in Manitou Springs is the large number of pot smokers from neighboring communities that will flock to Manitou for their recreational fix. Colorado Springs with a population just under 432,000 is but a mere 15-minute drive away from Manitou. In July 2013, Colorado Springs’ City Council voted to ban recreational marijuana stores with a narrow vote of 5-4, meaning Manitou Springs is now a close and convenient source of marijuana for those without a prescription.

It’s not only a question of increasing road traffic, but also people traffic. Manitou Springs’ population of homeless seems to have risen in the last few years. The anecdotal evidence is the appearance of an increasing number of young people gathering on the corner, sometimes smoking pot openly. It alters the feeling of the friendly town. Though many of the young and old homeless and panhandlers who congregate at the circle on Manitou Ave. are harmless, the question of safety may cross their minds of tourists who come to the area. Since the passing of Amendment 64, the Colorado cities of Denver and Colorado Springs have reported a large influx of homeless youth; many stating they are in Colorado for the weed, and it seems safe to say that Manitou may see the same ripple effect.

With some of these negative side effects becoming apparent, Haas, as a parent, is concerned.  He has chosen for his children to attend the Manitou Springs’ schools, coming in from a neighboring town.

Manitou Ave. in the Historic district of Manitou Springs  (Source: Michael Brands for The New York Times)
Manitou Ave. Historic district of Manitou Springs (Source: Michael Brands/The New York Times)

What might happen if parents begin to perceive Manitou Springs as a center for recreational marijuana? A large percentage of Manitou’s High schoolers are “choiced” in, meaning that if parents change their minds based on the reality, or purely their own perception, of what is going on in Manitou, the local schools could lose money. Just losing 20% of the students would be enough financial cause for the schools to have to cut teachers and the other students would be left to face the consequences.

NRMMS created the petition to ban retail marijuana shops from the Manitou Springs community shortly after the City Council’s vote. The group gathered 593 signatures, 465 being certified, almost double the required number of 275 certified signatures — 15 percent of the number of voters in the last general election (1,833). The question will appear on the November 4th ballot allowing voters to decide if the current ordinance should be upheld, or overturned, banning retail marijuana establishments in the city of Manitou Springs.    At least two groups are working together to ban the marijuana shops in Manitou Springs,  Don’t Let Manitou Go to Pot and People Against Retail Marijuana in Manitou Springs.

Resident voters will receive their ballots by mail on October 16. They should be returned no later than November 4. Voters who did not participate in the last election may need to update their voter status and request a ballot. For more information or to check your voter status in Manitou Springs, please visit the Manitou Springs City website. Voters wishing to ban the stores should vote YES on the marijuana retail ballot question. The Colorado Springs Gazette endorses a Yes vote on 2G.  Former Mayor Marcy Morrison recently wrote this opinion piece in the Gazette.