The Palmer Lake Town Council voted 4-1 on Aug. 8 to ban retail marijuana sales for recreational use.
The council's vote had mixed reaction. The standing-room-only crowd included nearly three dozen speakers who were allowed up to three minutes each to address the council. The speakers were split on the issue, with half saying that they were opposed to marijuana sales. The other half thought the potential tax revenue could help boost the town's economy. Some suggested that the sale of marijuana could be regulated, similar to how alcohol is regulated.
The most outspoken council member was Dr. Mike Maddox.
“People have the right to grow it and possess it, but they just can't buy it in Palmer Lake,” Maddox said. “My wife and I drive to Sam's Club (in Colorado Springs) once a week to get supplies. Marijuana is easily accessible. If you want t get it, you can find it.”
Maddox stated that he didn't want Palmer Lake to become the Amsterdam of El Paso County. The council thought that the sales of recreational marijuana would hurt the reputation and image of Palmer Lake. Some council members also said they don't feel good legalizing something that is still federally illegal.
Residents who were opposed to marijuana sales felt that the family-friendly environment of their quaint little town - population 2,200 - might become tarnished if visitors traveled there to buy drugs.
“I was part of that (marijuana) culture in the late 60s and early 70s,” said Maddox, who even wrote a book, `Peace Freak' on the subject. “We were going to mellow the whole world out. My friends and I were part of a dealing ring. We were moving a couple of hundred pounds of marijuana a week.
“But in June of 1972 I woke up and saw the underside of it. Research shows that marijuana is a harmful drug. It is a gateway drug.”
Council member Shana Ball voted to ban sales of marijuana. She said she could not ever support regulating marijuana sales.
Also voting to ban sales were council members Bob Grado and Mike Patrizi.
Richard Kuehster was the lone council member who wanted to put a moratorium on the issue. Palmer Lake mayor Nikki McDonald was on the record as not voting.
Colorado voters approved Amendment 64 last November, allowing adults over the 21 to posses up to one ounce of marijuana for recreational use. The amendment also allowed cities to set rules and regulations for retail marijuana sales in and stores that sell the drug.
Palmer Lake joins about 50 municipalities across the state that has banned retail marijuana sales in recent months. In July, the Colorado Springs City Council voted to ban sales.
Other cities in the Pikes Peak region banning sales include Monument, Fountain, Woodland Park and Green Mountain Falls. The Manitou Springs City Council is hosting a work session on Aug. 13 to discuss the issue.
Palmer Lake, and other cities, have until Oct. 1 - the state deadline for municipalities to designate the entity that would issue local licenses - to decide on whether they would adopt a ban. Other cities have voted to put a moratorium on the issue of retail sales.
Local licenses could be issued Jan. 1, according to the state law.