Colorado, months ago, discussed the idea of opening pot clubs, clubs that would allow for marijuana consumption much like bars allow for the consumption of a stein of beer or a glass of wine. This idea, however, was put on hold when Donald Trump took to the Oval Office and nominated Jeff Sessions for Attorney Party Pooper.
Sessions, as most people know, has a real hatred for Mary Jane and seems determined to rock the boat of the cannabis industry (especially for people who rock first). Not wanting to make waves and open themselves up to a federal investigation, Colorado put the idea on hold……or so it seemed.
Fast forward to today, and, as US News reports, Denver is accepting applications from businesses who hope to take part in the country’s first public marijuana clubs (legal ones, anyway). This measure was approved last year by Denver voters (but lawmakers backed off the plans because, as discussed above, the uncertainty of the Trump presidency).
The Beginning of Cannabis Clubs
Of course, the measure didn’t just sulk out into the darkness and die. It made an exit like Terminator, promising to be back and, it turns out, proving true to that vow: per Dan Rowland, a spokesperson for Denver’s marijuana regulatory agency, the city began accepting applications last week.
Does this mean that Denver locals and tourists will be able to smoke a bowl in public while watching the Denver Broncos go 19-0 (okay, 23-0 if you count preseason)? Well, not exactly: unfortunately, these things take time.
Cannabisclubs are on the horizon, but it’s a far-off horizon, one you nearly need binoculars to see
Not surprisingly, the application process is extremely extensive: it includes inspections by several regulatory agencies and city officials. And that’s not all: it also requires a public hearing to be held within 30 days of the application.
Rules, Rules and More Rules
There are also rules as to who can and can’t open a marijuana club. Booze and the bud, for instance, is strictly forbidden: state rules don’t allow cannabis to exist in any business with a liquor license. This means liquor stores, bars, and restaurants that serve alcohol can’t become marijuana clubs. The rules also have location limitations, which mainly involve children – marijuana clubs must be a certain distance from schools, playgrounds, and other child-centric businesses.
So, with these limitations, where will marijuana clubs exist? The idea is that they’ll flourish inside places like coffee shops, art galleries, and yoga studios. They may even flourish inside businesses that exist only for that very purpose: come to my empty warehouse…I have weed.
And now, cue the controversy! Initiative 300, the name of the marijuana-clubs initiative that voters passed is not without controversy, but it’s a unique kind. Usually, when cannabis controversy arises it’s because people are against it and fighting to keep it illegal. Sure, there are certainly a number of people who wish Initiative 300 never passed (and indeed people that voted against it), but the controversy making headlines involves those who back it.
According to the Denver Post, proponents of Initiative 300 believe that the program is destined to fail because the rules are so restrictive
there are considering legal action because the law is imposing so much hassle. The specific part of the initiative that is causing a problem involves the rules that no location can exist within 1,000 feet of schools, child-care facilities, and alcohol and drug treatment centers. Some people find these rules so restrictive that they claim the program was designed just so it would implode.
The Rule Makers
The people behind Initiative 300’s rules, per Colorado Public Radio, are a committee of 20 stakeholders (members of the marijuana community, city council members, and concerned community groups). With a diverse group of voices, there was a differing of opinions. Those for the initiative argued for less restrictive limitations and a desire for marijuana to be regulated like alcohol. They have a point –
There is hypocrisy in requiring social pot clubs to exist a certain distance from drug and alcohol treatment centers but not requiring the same of bars or liquor stores
On the other side, people argued that the rules weren’t restrictive enough. The head of the “Protect Denver’s Atmosphere – Vote no on 300” campaign, wanted longer distances that would have kept any social pot clubs away from private residences.
Some believe they compromised and met in the middle; others believe the initiative is largely unfair to Mary Jane.
The Applications Roll In
But the application process is proceeding nonetheless – a process that involves adhering to the rules mentioned above but also backing by business groups, support of nearby neighborhoods, a proposal and extensive plan, and a $1000 application fee.
There is also a second license coming down the pike. This license would also businesses to hold cannabis-friendly, special events. The state licensing department states that many applications have already rolled in. One of the more frequent applicants are the owners of marijuana dispensaries. Colorado law prevents people from consuming cannabis inside a dispensary, but there is nothing stopping that dispensary from opening a new “for consumption” site. They could do it across the street or next door.
Private pot clubs have always existed in Colorado since recreational weed was legalized. But the new social clubs will be open to the public, something novel and different. Other states that have legalized may follow based on how well Colorado does. So, smile Denver: pot lovers everywhere are watching you.