COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- As ballots for next month's general election are mailed to voters this week, Mayor John Suthers and 4th District Attorney Michael Allen are appearing in TV campaign ads asking voters to reject the proposal to legalize recreational marijuana sales in the city.
Suthers, along with other local elected leaders, has been a longtime opponent of recreational marijuana, saying that it will reduce the city's quality of life by leading to more crime and medical issues for users, and further strain public safety personnel already coping with limited resources and manpower.
Ballot Issue 300, if passed by voters, would legalize recreational marijuana sales in the city, joining Manitou Springs as the only city in El Paso County to allow such retail sales; Ballot Issue 301 would approve taxing those sales.
"The campaign in opposition to those issues contacted me several weeks ago and asked me to do the spot with Allen, and I was glad to do it," said Suthers, whose second term in office expires in April. "I have been opposed to recreational marijuana since 2012. I was one of those lone voices who said that this is not going to be good for Colorado, and nothing that's happened in the last ten years has given me any indication I was wrong. It lowers the quality of life. Look at what it's done to Denver. It's no longer the city that it once was."
Allen, in his first term as the district attorney for the 4th District, said that he agrees with Suthers and wants to voters to know where he stands on what he considers a public health and safety concern.
"Recreational marijuana increases homelessness and crime, and hurts the city's relationship with the military because (they have) strong anti-marijuana policies," he said.
Proponents of recreational pot maintain that the tax revenue generated would pay for public safety, mental health resources and PTSD programs for veterans.
However, Suthers disagrees.
"We'd get only around $7 million annually in tax revenue," he said. "That's just not worth the problems we'd have to face. Our public safety resources are already limited."
Allen said that he's skeptical about how tax revenue would be spent.
"We've seen in recent times now, that some of the money generated hasn't gone to where it was supposed to be going to," he explained. "That should give people some concern. What is this money really going to be spent on? What does it do to our community?"
Two ads are currently being broadcast; one with Suthers alone and another with Suthers and Allen together.