From the Frontlines: Marijuana Reform Moves Closer for Colorado Springs

city council

Since the Colorado Springs City Council banned retail marijuana sales and the subsequent regulation that would come with it, citizens have been disgruntled, to say the least. When the votes were counted, 4,947 votes were ignored in lieu of political and corporate interests. However, the Springs’ citizenry didn’t stop after their will was ignored by leadership. Instead, the community came together to assert their will. As representatives, our government officials are our employees, so we should all be interested in holding them accountable to our desires.

EVCLogoThe day of the ban, advocate Mark Slaugh and others of similar sentiment created an idea. Members envisioned a grassroots, citizen movement focused not only on the marijuana issue, but all aspects of our community deserving attention. Together, we founded Every Vote Counts. Members began meeting on Thursday nights at Studio A64, a local smoking lounge run by KC Stark, and then, per member request and majority vote, we moved meetings down to City Hall.

Instead of taking to the picket lines, we got to work, nose-to-stone style. Members performed extensive research to illuminate the proper citizen initiative filing process in Colorado Springs, meeting with city officials and pouring through our city charter and city code. We all worked tirelessly each Thursday evening to put together the essentials for our organization: a board, bylaws, and state nonprofit incorporation all became necessary. Through the dedication of our membership, we began the lengthy process of changing the law in Colorado Springs.

The first step in changing legislation is listening to the community conversation around the issues in question. To hear from the community regarding cannabis retail sales, Every Vote Counts will host a Community Conversation to Regulate Cannabis like Alcohol. The meeting will take place on Thursday, November 14, 2013 at the Warehouse Restaurant from 7-9 pm. Community members, political figures, business persons, and others will come together for a discussion on how we, as Colorado Springs residents of all professions, would like to see marijuana regulated in our city.

We’re asking people to come to the table ready to look at ways to compromise. As the Every Vote Counts Secretary, I would like to personally invite all interested readers in the area to attend and join the input process. We want to hear all voices and opinions as we draft our initiative. Volunteers will be documenting all commentary and discussion as we work together to reach common ground.

As a group, Every Vote Counts wishes to create true dialogue and community representation on issues that affect our daily lives in the local community. Colorado Springs has a chance to be nationally recognized as a family-friendly place to live, work, and play because we keep our recreational drugs in shops, under heavy health regulations, and away from the streets where children can access them easily. We can create an effective and efficient system to protect our community.

Cannabis budAs a city, Colorado Springs can be the testing ground for responsible, accountable government as we regulate cannabis. When we succeed, the entire nation will see how our community came together for the common good. We can be a shining beacon for other cities and states that may lean toward conservative values because marijuana regulation has no clearly defined position on any political platform. This issue can be a unifying one that causes our leaders to reach across the aisles and find places for real, working compromise.