The Pueblo West View

Voters backed retail marijuana — even in Pueblo West

Pueblo County and city voters solidly backed the recreational marijuana industry on Nov. 8 — even in Pueblo West, where the anti-pot drive essentially began. The ballot issue that would have banned recreational pot licenses in Pueblo County — Ballot Question 200 — won in only six of the 20 precincts there; they tied in a seventh.

In fact, there were 9,085 votes from Pueblo West residents in favor of recreational pot businesses, significantly more than the 7,908 votes to ban those businesses.

“That does surprise me because Pueblo West was where we had the most vocal support for Question 200,” said Charlene Graham, spokeswoman for Citizens for Healthy Pueblo, the organization that pushed Questions 200 and 300. Both questions would have banned recreational pot businesses in the city and county.

It was a hotly contested race, both for and against recreational pot, with mailers and door fliers papering the county.

Countywide, there were 45,728 voters against Question 200 and 33,334 in support — a winning margin of 58 to 42 percent.

Inside the city limits, support for recreational pot was even stronger. Question 300 lost in 82 out of 88 precincts — almost a clean sweep of the city.

Citywide, 28,476 voters rejected Question 300 while 18,724 supported it — an even bigger victory margin for the industry than in 2012 when about 59 percent of city voters backed legalization. On Nov. 8, the margin was 61 percent.

City Council President Steve Nawrocki said he wasn’t all that surprised by the result, although the recent campaign had made it sound as if the public was closely divided.

“But I’ve had more calls from constituents about code enforcement and other issues than I’ve ever heard about marijuana,” he said.

Jim Parco, spokesman for the industry group Growing Pueblo’s Future, said pot opponents wanted to press voters on the issue again and got an unmistakable answer.

Parco said he was pleased the industry won the election, even in Pueblo West, but pointed to a different trend in the voting.

“I believed all along that legalized marijuana is not a partisan issue,” he said. “Look at Pueblo County, where Donald Trump won the presidential race but even more voters backed recreational marijuana. And that’s the trend nationally: About 60 percent of voters support legalization.”

Graham didn’t question the election results but said the concerns raised by pot critics remain valid.

“One reason you saw this groundswell of opposition is because some voters thought our elected officials weren’t taking into account the consequences of legalization and the problems that can bring,” she said. “They still need to do that.”

nov. 8 vote on retail marijuana ban

Yes No

Question 200 (county) 33,334 45,728

Pueblo West precincts 7,908 9,085

Question 300 (city) 18,724 29,476

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The Pueblo West View