first_imgAs Coal Prospects Decline, a Colorado Town Reconsiders Marijuana FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Jack Healy for the New York Time:One mine here in the North Fork Valley has shut down amid a wave of coal bankruptcies and slowdowns, and another has announced that it will go dark. The closings added to a landscape of layoffs and economic woes concussing mining-dependent towns from West Virginia to Wyoming. And as Hotchkiss searches for a new economic lifeline, some people are asking: What about marijuana?“If we could get it legalized right now, we could create some jobs, and we need the tax revenue,” said Thomas Wills, a town trustee who runs a used-book store and supports allowing some marijuana stores. “Downtown’s not going to be all flashing green crosses and dancing marijuana leaves. You can make it as unobtrusive as you want.”Next month, Hotchkiss will vote on whether to undo its ban and welcome marijuana shops and the traffic and taxes that could come with them. With cannabis sales soaring to nearly $1 billion across Colorado, and big states such as California poised to embrace legalization, wary towns like Hotchkiss are looking at the economics of marijuana and starting to reconsider.“It’s an evolving discussion in a lot of communities,” said Kevin Bommer, deputy director of the Colorado Municipal League, which tracks local debates on the issue. Six Colorado towns are voting in April on whether to scrap their prohibitions on marijuana stores, and in January, another narrowly voted to lift a moratorium and approve wholesale marijuana growers.“There were a lot of questions and unknowns,” said Mayor Joel Benson of Buena Vista, a town in Colorado’s central mountains that allows medical marijuana and is weighing whether to allow recreational sales. “It was really just to give people time to wrestle with the ins and outs.”“People have been tightening the belt or just plain moving away,” said Robbie Winne, who runs the Rose, a secondhand clothing shop along Hotchkiss’s main street. She said she supported the marijuana plan as a way to entice more visitors, or at least capture some traffic as people passed through on their way to ski towns.Ms. Winne said that although pot was no panacea, at least it could perk up business and tax revenue. Colorado collected about $135 million in taxes and fees from marijuana sales last year, and small governments have taken in millions from local sales taxes. In the tiny town of DeBeque, near the Utah border, officials told Colorado Public Radio that they were considering using the tax money from marijuana to start a scholarship fund or repair streets, curbs and gutters.Full article: As Coal Prospects Decline, a Colorado Town Reconsiders Marijuanalast_img

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