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El Paso County Lawmakers Increase Restrictions against Marijuana Dispensaries

Medicinal and recreational marijuana is an undisputed tax and financial boom in the Pikes Peak region.

However, the El Paso County Commissioners are continuing their staunch stand against the industry, according to government critics.

Last week, the commissioners officially banned the use of green cross signage by marijuana dispensaries. The new restriction, authorized through a resolution, goes into effect immediately. The anti-green cross edict for marijuana businesses, though, only impacts those businesses in the unincorporated parts of the county. It won’t affect the slew of cannabis businesses in Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs.

And in a slight reprieve for current dispensaries that use this type of signage, such as the Eagle’s Nest Wellness Center in Cascade, the restriction would allow these outlets to continue to display this symbol, until they renew their licenses.

Still, some marijuana industry advocates see this as another stab at an industry that has become over-regulated, and one that generates plenty of tax revenue.

The El Paso County Commissioners, though, stated that they fear visitors, with the green cross signage, may confuse medical marijuana dispensaries with pharmacies. By enacting this restriction, the commissioners hope that other jurisdictions follow suit.

El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn proposed the resolution out of what he classified as a concern for young adults who could think the green signs represent a legitimate pharmacy. A green cross is known as a symbol internationally for first aid. “It was one of those things where it’s there but you don’t even think about it,” said Glenn, in an earlier meeting, according to an article in The (Colorado Springs) Gazette. “But I believe it is important enough to take action.”

The resolution is also heavily supported by Commission Chairwoman Amy Lathen. “I think it’s interesting when you talk about international visitors and even not international, but just people from other states, when they come here and they see these symbols, they may not realize all the fun we are having here in Colorado,” stated Lathen in a meeting last month.

Green crosses are often used by marijuana dispensaries in the area to identify their businesses. Current rules also outlaw the use of the words “marijuana” or “cannabis” on signage.

Some industry advocates, though, complain that the commissioners are adopting policies that clash with the majority sentiment of Colorado voters, who favored legalizing both medical and recreational marijuana. Both issues, approved through state-wide ballot issues done at different times, passed by wide margins.

Most government elected leaders in the area, though, have adopted measures banning any future medicinal cannabis dispensaries from opening, or prohibiting recreational marijuana outlets. Other parts of the state, such as in Denver and Pueblo, have accepted these businesses with open-arms.

El Paso County government officials, though, say it’s important to have these regulations on their books, so young people won’t face any risks.