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Akarsh Simha

Constituents in Pueblo County, Colorado will vote on outlawing recreational marijuana sales and operations in November as prohibitionists have submitted enough signatures for the initiative to appear on local ballots.

If approved, the measure would permit all of the marijuana facilities operating in the county as of Nov. 7 to continue operations until their license expires or Oct. 31, 2017, whichever comes first. The scheme outlaws all retail facilities, including testing laboratories. Medical dispensaries would be permitted.

Citizens for Healthy Pueblo, supporters of the repeal efforts, claim the number of retail stores and cultivation sites has given them the undesirable reputation as the marijuana capital of southern Colorado, and increased vagrancy and crime. Supporters of the legal market say banning the industry would cost thousands of jobs – jobs that have attributed to the revitalization of the local economy.

According to the Boston Globe report, there are more than 100 retail dispensaries, cultivation facilities, and product manufacturers in Pueblo County.

County Commissioner Sal Pace indicated there are more than 1,300 Pueblo County jobs at stake, along with nearly $4 million in annual tax revenue. Those revenues have supported college scholarships, medical marijuana research at Colorado State University, Pueblo; and 4H and Future Farmers of America programs, he said. 

“That’s one thing opponents here in Pueblo don’t understand, it’s going to be legalized nationally no matter what and they can be left behind if they want, but if they do it to our community it’s one more really hard attack on Pueblo, one more lost opportunity,” Pace said in the report. “It’s like the steel mill closing again.”

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