After Amendment 64 passed, making Colorado the first state to legalize the recreational use and sale of cannabis, the first thing to spring up after new dispensaries were cannabis clubs. All over the state these clubs were popping up, giving people a place to go and toke and be social, rather than being cooped up at home like they were still living in prohibition.
Unfortunately, not all of the cities around the state have been so keen on the idea of cannabis clubs. Denver has been on a back-and-forth roller coaster ride when it comes to the subject of cannabis clubs, with NORML (among other groups) starting ballot initiatives to implement a law that would allow clubs under specific guidelines.
Now Colorado Springs lawmakers have voted 6-3 to ban cannabis clubs throughout the city. The ban prevents any new cannabis clubs from opening up and will phase out the existing clubs over the next eight years. The reason for the ban was because clubs were asking for “dues”, “membership fees”, or “donations” which lawmakers determined were in exchange for the marijuana provided by the clubs.
“Where are people going to smoke marijuana if your ordinance passes and these clubs are prohibited?” attorney Robert Correy asked council at Tuesday’s meeting.
This is the main reason that the ban on cannabis clubs poses such a problem for the cannabis community. With the exception of cannabis clubs there are no places where a group of people can get together to partake in a joint, bowl, or anything of the sort. There is no reason that marijuana use should be strictly allowed in your home – it also leaves visitors of the state with little option of places to consume cannabis as few hotels allow smoking on site.
“The right of association in a free country is one of the most important and cherished rights, and it applies to those who associate with purposes you agree and it applies to those who associate for purposes you disagree with, that’s the point of America,” said Correy.
Unfortunately, some lawmakers (one in particular being Councilman Don Knight) don’t see a reason for them to allow cannabis clubs in the first place.
“I don’t think that is a requirement of city government to provide you a place where you can smoke marijuana… That’s not a right provided in the constitution and that’s not a right of city government,” Knight said.
I’m having a hard time understanding why they are so firmly against cannabis clubs, yet anyone over 21 can go into a bar and get drunk at almost any time of the day. The good news is the cannabis club owners and customers have an attorney on their side that plans to take the ban to courts.
“Amendment 64 rights are non-negotiable,” Correy told the council. “This is the reality. I will be seeking an immediate temporary restraining order today.”
Even though lawmakers like Knight who voted for the bans are not worried about the lawsuit, they probably should be. Even if they lose the lawsuit, that would likely be enough to cause a petition for a ballot initiative to allow cannabis clubs like Denver activists have been doing. For now, it seems cannabis clubs are going to continue to be a cause of controversy, but chances are in the end they will be allowed.