Prospering in Pueblo
Former Westword reporter Joel Warner dropped a compelling look at marijuana in Pueblo County these days in the Aug. 17 issue of High Country News. You can read the whole thing at bit.ly/1K2HMpK, but here are some highlights:
• Colorado Springs developer Mark Morley, 55, is building several outdoor grows on 30 acres he owns east of Pueblo that will yield some 14,400 plants. "If he planted corn on this land, each acre would require approximately 2.2 acre-feet of water per year and produce $768 in annual sales ..." Warner writes. "That same acre planted with marijuana would require roughly 2.65 acre-feet of water — and gross Morley $6 million."
• Some 50 companies are approved to operate in the county, spurred by the unprecedented support of the Pueblo County commissioners. "The county has also issued pioneering rules that prohibit hemp grows with male plants from being located within five miles of existing marijuana grows," the story notes. "This prevents cross-pollination that could lower the marijuana plants' THC content while increasing THC in the hemp, which can't exceed 0.3 percent under state law."
• In 2014, Pueblo County made $1.8 million in licensing fees and taxes. In the private market, one local Realtor says real estate prices for industrial properties have nearly doubled to $50 per square foot of space.
• There's been a downside: "Marijuana-related crimes, including the 2014 armed robbery of a marijuana shop, have increased, according to Undersheriff J.R. Hall." Local shelters and nonprofits have been "flooded," Warner writes, with people relocating to Pueblo for pot.
Record rec sales
Colorado saw its recreational-marijuana sales continue to soar as June totals came to $50.1 million. That included the largest month-over-month increase from May to June, when sales jumped by $7.6 million, reports the Denver Post. Medical-marijuana sales also hit a new high of $35.2 million.
Year-to-date, the state of Colorado has collected $60.7 million in all marijuana-related taxes. El Paso County brought in $197,835 in June medical-cannabis taxes, up from $189,852 in May, according to state reports.
Colorado banking support
An update from the Southern Colorado Cannabis Council says there's some hope of federal action on new banking regulations, which would remove the overflowing-with-cash element by allowing banks to work with the industry. "First the good news," says executive director Jason Warf in an email. "Colorado Congressman Ed Perlmutter introduced [the Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act of 2015] and has 29 cosponsors including Reps. DeGette, Coffman, and Polis. ... The bad news is that we still have three Colorado Congressmen, Lamborn, Buck and Tipton, who have not yet supported cannabis industry banking reform."