Colorado Springs should never strive to be a smaller-scale, second-rate Denver. Although Denver is a great American city, the Springs should distinguish itself by offering a more family-friendly landscape.
That is exactly the stand the Colorado City Council took Monday by rejecting a proposal to allow retail recreational marijuana stores. Advocates, including council President Richard Skorman and Councilwoman Jill Gaebler, wanted a ballot measure in November asking voters to approve retail pot commerce.
Recreational pot does not fit the character of Colorado Springs, which is home to major military operations, including the Air Force Academy and thousands of young cadets. This is home to the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee along with dozens of Olympic team governing boards and athletes they serve. This is a community of wellness and health. A community of youth.
Denver and much of the rest of Colorado have an unfortunate reputation for advocating drug use. Voters made Colorado the first state to legalize recreational pot and made Denver the first jurisdiction in North America to decriminalize hallucinogenic mushrooms. The Denver City Council wants city-run injection houses for heroin and methamphetamine.
The cavalier view of recreational drugs makes Colorado an unappealing option for potential new residents and visitors who work hard to discourage their children from developing drug habits or problems with substance abuse. It concerns military brass who work to curtail drug abuse among the ranks. It concerns the U.S. Olympics.
When Colorado voted to legalize pot eight years ago, it was a statement of rebellion. It made Colorado that glamorous rebel with and a leather jacket and a pack of cigarettes.
Today, the image is copied and worn and not-so-cool. The rebel has no clothes. He has created problems in schools and on the roads. He probably costs more than he earns. He smells like weed.
As cities and states legalize pot from coast to coast, the jurisdictions that just say “no” will distinguish themselves as genuinely unique. They will virtue-signal to those business owners, military leaders and heads of households looking for wholesome locations that frown on recreational drug use.
As a handful of council members dreamed of taxing recreational pot, Pentagon officials contemplated which city would become the permanent home to Space Command. If a majority on the council said yes to a pot referendum, they would send a clear and disturbing message to Washington. They would say we don’t care about efforts to keep young service personnel off drugs. We don’t care about confusing young officers and enlistees about marijuana, which is forbidden by the military and federal law.
Fortunately, Colorado Springs — as shown Monday — cares deeply about discouraging drug use. Our city leaders want a welcoming, friendly, supportive, and healthy environment for businesses, families, military operations and the U.S. Olympics.
In decisions going forward, Colorado Springs leaders should distinguish their city by prioritizing the public’s health, safety and welfare.
Council members did just the right thing Monday by rejecting more pot. As other major cities crumble under anti-intuitive social policies — such as drug-injection sites and storefront pot — Colorado Springs should run far and fast in the other direction.