Earlier this year, the budget for Colorado Springs looked bleak. After voters shot down a measure that would have increased property taxes, officials were left to slash city funding: Firefighter and police positions would go unfilled; the police helicopter was put up for sale; bus services were cut on nights and weekends.
But now, a new source of revenue is flowing into the city's coffers thanks to medical marijuana, a source not welcomed by everyone in a region known for its conservatism. As officials in El Paso County have placed a measure on the ballot to ban medical marijuana businesses, spurring a lawsuit, budget makers in Colorado Springs are "laughing all the way to the bank," writes The Gazette. Sales-tax revenues from medical marijuana in the city are at about $325,000 so far this year, up approximately three times from last year.
"I think this provides a little more evidence to us that we should let the industry continue and see how it works in our community and not shut it down prematurely," says Mayor Lionel Rivera, adding, however, that he is skeptical about the overall community benefits of medical marijuana.
The city isn't the only entity benefiting from medicinal pot in the Springs. The Colorado Springs Independent alternative-weekly newspaper has used new revenue from medical marijuana ads to promote three staffers to full-time posts and hire another reporter, notes The New York Times.