Since Colorado and Washington first legalized recreational marijuana use, the topic of cannabis clubs has certainly been one of much debate – and so far only Denver, Colorado has laws on the books that specify where people can publicly consume cannabis (via licensed businesses in the area). Surprisingly, lawmakers are now considering a bill that would make cannabis clubs legal in the entire state.
Senate Bill 184 was passed with a 5-2 vote in the Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee after a lengthy three hour debate; it is now expected to be heard and voted on at the Senate floor. This was one of multiple cannabis-related bills, and one of two that would make a path to a legal way for people to socialize and consume cannabis at the same time.
“We’re legal, and we need a place for people to go. We need social clubs,” Ashley Weber of Colorado NORML, a marijuana-legalization advocacy group, told The Associated Press.
If passed by the full Senate then the bill would go over to the House for consideration. If it’s passed there and signed into law then it would give local governments the authority to allow cannabis clubs (or to ban them). Unlike in Denver, where almost any type of business can become a 420-friendly space, it would allow for specific “clubs” to be created where members can consume cannabis for a membership fee.
While this would certainly be a start, there are a couple of problems with the way the law would be set up. For one, it allows local governments to ban cannabis social clubs, which leaves many residents with the same issue of having legal cannabis but nowhere to legally consume it.
The other big issue is the fact that not everyone would be able to afford an additional monthly membership fee, just to be able to smoke cannabis in a social setting. It would also be an issue for travelers, who may not have the extra money to pay a daily or weekly membership fee in order to have a place to smoke or vape their legal bud.
“We’re saying if you can’t afford your own home to smoke in, then we don’t care,” Marble said. “We’ve got to care about those people, and we have to let them know that they’re accepted and that they are valued members of our society.”
A separate bill that was not voted on, therefore will not be heard by the Senate floor, would have allowed cannabis dispensaries to allow consumption areas or lounges, along with the creation of similar private consumption clubs – but the more restrictive of the two bills was the more popular in the end.
Now that we are a few years into a growing legal cannabis industry it is nice to see that lawmakers are finally looking at it more objectively – and better yet, they are doing something to help the people who end up caught in a legal grey area of Amendment 64 where they have nowhere to take their bud. This bill may not solve all the legal public consumption problems, but it would certainly be a start.