No pot stops: El Paso County bans recreational-marijuana shops

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Lathen: There tends to be, too often, a forgetfulness about what this drug really does to our society.
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  • Lathen: 'There tends to be, too often, a forgetfulness about what this drug really does to our society.'

This morning, in a 4 to 1 vote, the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners passed the second and final reading of an ordinance banning retail-marijuana facilities in unincorporated areas of the county. Commissioner Peggy Littleton was the lone dissenter, as her district, which is mostly the city of Colorado Springs, voted in favor of Amendment 64, unlike the majority of outlying areas. She also wanted the board to wait until it could take a look at whatever regulations the state eventually creates.

"Rather than act in haste and repent in leisure, we can take into consideration those things that are presented to us by the governor’s council," Littleton said to no avail.

The vote does not affect personal growing of marijuana, or medical-marijuana laws currently in place, though it does mean any current MMJ centers with locations in the county will not be able to switch over to the retail side when that becomes an option, as Todays Health Care found out. The company, which has two locations in the Springs, has its grow in the county, so owner Natalie Romolt petitioned the board to not include recreational grow operations in the ban. Commissioners declined.

A handful of people spoke in opposition to the ban, including representatives of the Colorado Springs Medical Cannabis Council, as well as cannabis advocates Jason Lauve and Bob Wiley.

"This resolution would be a continuation of the unintended consequences of marijuana prohibition," said Wiley. "It would cause, potentially, more harm than just not doing anything. It would grant an exclusive franchise for illegal, commercial, black-market criminals to sell marijuana in the county."

The defense of marijuana eventually drew the ire of Commissioner Amy Lathen who alternated between expounding on the plant's federally illegal status; reading from her two teenage sons' Young Marines handbook regarding the side effects of marijuana; and regaling the crowd with the dangers the substance poses to children.

“And I just want to make sure that, from my perspective and on the record," Lathen said firmly, offering her reasoning for voting yes on the ban, "that we don’t lose sight of the seriousness of the proliferation of this drug within our society, and certainly within our youth.”

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