Thursday night at The Thirsty Parrot, medical marijuana proponents gathered to hear the Colorado Springs Medical Cannabis Council unveil its plan for combating the November ballot question that could ban MMJ centers in unincorporated El Paso County.
President of the Council Tanya Garduno unveiled the industry's anti-ban voice: Citizens for Safer Communities. The group's legal strategy is being led by several attorneys, namely Laura Haynes and Charles Houghton, who have capped their attorney's fees at $125,000. The attorneys plan to work to remove the question from the ballot; should that attempt fail and an appeal be necessary, additional fees will be required.
"What you probably don't know is, behind the scenes, Laura and I were working with the county attorney to try and get a resolution passed that allowed for grandfathering," Houghton says. "The county attorney provided three different versions of that resolution. During the County Commissioners meeting, they took a look at those, the county attorney said, 'Here are the options, and they're in declining order of defensibility: one, two and three.'
"Well, in their infinite wisdom, they picked four."
The attorney spoke to a packed house on the top floor of the downtown bar.
"We've seen you put your personal and family financial futures on the line, based on what you thought was going to be a fair deal from the government, and every time we turn around, they try and hurt you again," Houghton continued. "We've decided that we've had about enough of that. I'm tired of my clients being treated like criminals, and I'm tired of the patients being treated as less than human."
In other news, Garduno says she's heard anti-MMJ group Let Us Vote COS has recently purchased $50,000 in airtime on Citadel Broadcasting stations. (The group refuses to reveal its future plans.) To help combat this, Citizens for Safer Communities has brought in attorney and political veteran Michael Elliott, who's expected to manage its campaign. Elliott says he's a veteran of four past campaign fights, including a failed 2006 battle for domestic-partner benefits.
In the meantime, CSC is asking for donations from centers, patients and those positively affected by the MMJ industry to help fund polls, media buys, neighborhood signs, direct-mail marketing and more. Garduno says she's unsure of the total amount the campaign is expected to cost, but media buys and signs alone are estimated at $350,000.