Pueblo and Its Lesson

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October 3, 2016

This issue contains an extremely important feature about Pueblo County, Colo. (page 78). The county has faced some opposition to cannabis legalization, and this November, voters in Pueblo County will be voting on whether to ban cannabis businesses entirely. Meanwhile, the county has become home to thriving cannabis businesses – retail and especially cultivators, who find the climate and land ideal for cultivation.

Pueblo’s story is somewhat unique due to the size of the industry that has grown there, and the fact that even after a thriving industry has developed, it can still be wiped out. In other words, while the Federal government continues to consider cannabis as a Schedule I illegal substance, cannabis businesses are truly never safe. It’s probably not news to most of you, nor is it comforting. But unfortunately, it’s true.

And Pueblo is not alone. In Oregon, more than 100 counties have “opted-out” of allowing cannabis businesses to operate within county borders, according to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. A couple of these counties ban cultivation and retail sales, but still allow for processing; though most ban all cannabis businesses. A number of these also are up for vote in November’s general election.

Pueblo and all the other towns and counties that have banned cannabis businesses in states with legal adult use illustrate the uphill battle the industry has yet to fight. Public attitudes toward cannabis may be shifting, but many prohibition blocks remain. Obviously much work needs to be done, as decades of fear-mongering and misperceptions will not be undone overnight.

Even in Florida, the fight to legalize medical marijuana is back on (with Amendment 2 on the ballot a second time), and as you will read in the Guest Column by United for Care’s Ben Pollara (page 32), it’s a battle of seismic proportions and one that relies heavily on financial contributions to counter the anti-marijuana campaign, which, again, is roaring.

If this industry is going to continue to grow, stakeholders must do what they can to educate the public (neighbors and other residents, town council, police, etc.) and also join in the fight in other areas of the country where all of our efforts are needed.

The November elections are crucial for all of us in more ways than one. So beyond getting out to vote, we should ask ourselves if we are doing everything we can to help prevent all the Pueblos out there and helping to advance this industry, this movement throughout the entire country.

Noelle Skodzinski, Editor nskodzinski@gie.net | 856-979-2081 | Twitter: @editorCBT