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CC professor says recreational cannabis could solve Colorado Springs’ budget cuts

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) --  It's a topic that's been discussed several times in Colorado Springs but never seems to gain any traction: recreational marijuana and the tax benefits it can bring to Olympic City. 

Now, with the $20 million in budget cuts and possibly $18 million more within the next few months, Colorado College economics professor Neal Rappaport says recreational marijuana could make up that deficit by nearly 90 percent.

"Arranged from $8 million to $17 million -- whether you go for the lower rate or the higher rate," Rappaport said.

At the highest tax, he says it would cover 88 percent of the $20 million cut. At it's lowest tax, it would cover nearly 40 percent. These estimates are just from one year of sales tax revenue.

“I chose the most conservative estimates for this,” Rappaport said.

These estimates were comprised of demographic data, state data, city budgets, and tax reports. Rappaport says it won't cover everything but could put a huge dent in making up those cuts.

However, Mayor John Suthers says it's not worth it. As of now, medical marijuana brings in $3 million a year to Colorado Springs and his experts estimate recreational sales would bring in only $7 million.

“That doesn’t come close to making up what we think our deficit shortfall is going to be this year,” Suther said. The mayor says this is especially when you add potential additional cuts to the budget.

Suthers says it's a short-sighted goal that could jeopardize U.S. Space Command from being headquartered in Colorado Springs permanently. Suthers says, "The economic benefit of having U.S. Space Command will grossly exceed seven million dollars a year."

It's an argument Suthers has made multiple times when recreational cannabis is discussed, but City Council member Bill Murray says it's not a good excuse.

“For the folks that are concerned about marijuana again, it’s four miles away,” Murray said talking about Manitou Springs. Murray added that Colorado Springs is missing out on millions from residents here buying recreational weed there. It's money he thinks Colorado Springs deserves and could help during this pandemic.

“The practical way to handle it is to license it and regulate it within the confines of your own community, not somebody else's,” Murray said.

Chase Golightly

Chase is a reporter and an anchor for our weekend evening newscasts. Learn more about Chase here.



  1. Murray is correct. Suthers is letting his personal and religious views influence his marijuana decision. That “evil marijuana”! Can’t expect a the person in charge of the incarceration of drug offenders for years suddenly approve of MJ. Nobody’s “protecting” the city, all the homeless and panhandlers still occupy the City and then just buy their MJ in the County. All the “holier than thou” attitude does is prevent getting the tax money to offset all of the costs for the bums and drug addicted that are here anyway. They’re all where the services are (in the City), not in the County. Suthers doesn’t want to hurt his right wing political aspirations by being known as a religious conservative that approved of the Devil’s weed!!!

    1. Unfortunately, personal and religious views influence many of the decisions made in our country these days. Long gone are the days when politicians really take their oaths of office seriously, despite what they say at the time.

  2. Your absolutely right! The hypocrisy of our democracy. I’m sure our mayor was apart of signing off on dropping all charges (civil and criminal) against Ray Marshall, the developer who swindle investors outta millions of dollars, including at least 600k from the city of Colorado Springs (taxpayers money). The sad part that story got very little coverage, I wonder why?

  3. That’s all we need is workers operating heavy machinery while under the influence of this stuff. I knew a guy who lost his keys at least 10 times. He was a confused mess. Traffic deaths are up significantly since legalization. The murder trial I was on, pot was the center of the investigation. I don’t want to live in a world where there are potheads on every block!!!! Medicinal for old farts. Yes!

  4. The most common use for medical marijuana in the United States is for pain control. While marijuana isn’t strong enough for severe pain as stated in example, post-surgical pain or a broken bone), it is quite effective for the chronic pain that plagues millions of Americans, especially as they age. Part of its allure is that it is clearly safer than opiates (it is impossible to overdose on and far less addictive) and it can take the place of NSAIDs such as Advil or Aleve, if people can’t take them due to problems with their kidneys or ulcers or GERD.

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