There’s one industry that routinely posts double-digit sales tax increases month after month. It’s a mature industry, around for 15 years, and one that is highly regulated by the state.
It seems like our “business-friendly” City Council would embrace such an industry. Instead, the group has shown a woeful amount of ignorance about state regulations and how the medical marijuana industry operates in the state.
The group has struggled with the issue for nearly a month — first lumping medical dispensaries in with a ban on unregulated cannabis clubs and then deciding to tackle the zoning for clubs and medicinal marijuana grows/dispensaries separately. And this week, Councilors amended the moratorium again, this time to allow owners to appeal if they are dealing with expiring leases during the suggested six-month ban on new medical marijuana facilities.
The move leaves more questions than answers — and displays a clear prejudice by some members of Council. To these Councilors, there’s no difference between medicinal marijuana dispensaries — regulated from seed to sale by the state, with registered users showing medical necessity — and recreational sales that are already banned in the city.
The Council is penalizing an industry that does not sell its products to other states and maintains strict controls over grows and sales. City Council doesn’t seem to care that city coffers benefit from medical marijuana. In June, medical marijuana proceeds to the city were up 20.6 percent above the previous month; in July, they increased 36.11 percent and in August, revenue was up 43.2 percent. The city received $1.49 million in sales tax from the industry in 2014.
The move leaves more questions than answers — and displays a clear prejudice by some members of Council.
There’s no real explanation for the rush to change zoning now — other than a clear bias against legalized marijuana, despite the majority of residents voting for it. City Council, far from being business-friendly, wants to inhibit the growth of an industry that is acting responsibly and contributing to the economy — not to mention all the support businesses that are thriving because of medical marijuana.
Contrast Council’s treatment of medical marijuana companies with its embrace of an unnamed data center that might move to the city.
Instead of questioning the massive amount of electricity required to run data centers, Councilors passed a raft of incentives designed to convince the company to choose the Springs.
Data centers run their facilities at maximum capacity around the clock, and figures show that they waste 90 percent of the electricity they pull off the grid.
Essentially huge computer banks, the centers account for 17 percent of the nation’s overall carbon footprint and a single data center — just one — can use as much electricity as a small city. It shows where Council’s priorities lie — and it isn’t with small, local, home-grown businesses. Does the Springs have enough excess electricity for the data center? Will rates go up for other business or residential customers? For a mere 22 permanent jobs, Council promised the company hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax breaks.
Instead of blindly betting on a data center, with its huge demand for resources and few full-time jobs, the city should back the thriving local pot industry.that creates revenue.