Colorado police officers wrote nearly 800 citations for the new crime of public marijuana consumption in 2014 – the first year recreational sales began.
Although using recreational cannabis is legal, Colorado visitors cannot use in public. Or in rental cars. Or most hotel rooms. Hence the reason for a high number of public cannabis consumption citations. People are coming to Colorado for cannabis, and may not even understand where they can and cannot smoke marijuana.
Some legalization advocates believe they may just have the perfect solution — cannabis clubs. This fall, Denver voters may have the options to consider a ballot measure that would allow pot clubs in the city. This would make it the most populous city in the nation to expressly allow pot clubs.
People need a place to go where they can openly smoke, without the fear of breaking the law. You can go out pretty much anywhere in the city and see people drinking alcohol. There is a safe place for people to drink in social settings; but this is not the case for marijuana. Advocates for cannabis clubs are saying they deserve a place to – after all, it’s a legal activity.
But It’s Not That Easy
Surprisingly, marijuana clubs are harder to sell in Colorado than legalizing cannabis was in the first place.
The amendment that legalized marijuana does not give people the right to use it “openly or publicly.” This is clearly a nod to the critics who once said legalization would lead to an upheaval of Amsterdam-style clubs.
But technically Colorado’s constitution does not ban public use. This has led to a confusing patchwork of local policies on weed clubs.
Why The Opposition to Cannabis Clubs? And Who’s Opposed?
Concerns about pot clubs mirror worries about legalizing the drug in the first place.
- Law enforcement officials have said marijuana clubs could lead to a spike in impaired driving. Although, there’s no evidence that existing underground clubs have been linked to traffic accidents or crime.
- Some Residents worry that pot clubs would further encourage minors to try the drug.
- Lack of a regulatory model
- Law enforcement, the pot industry, state regulators and even bars and restaurants cannot seem to agree on how a marijuana club bill would work.
And The Advocates and Their Arguments?
Marijuana activists say that reason for opposition #2, is exactly why there should be pot clubs. They, too don’t want their children, their nieces and nephews and their grandchildren experimenting with marijuana at a young age – so they say, “Let’s get it off the street!”
It is no different than bars that serve alcohol. Some say they may even be safer, as many experience anger and aggression when drinking alcohol (increasing the likelihood of fights and crime), but this is not the case with marijuana use.
And ultimately, they say, it comes down to personal freedom.
November Colorado Ballot
They’ve got until mid-August to collect about 5,000 signatures to put the question on municipal ballots this November. Four years ago, Denver County approved legalization nearly 2-to-1.
Do Marijuana Clubs Exist in Colorado?
Yes. Cities near and far from Denver do in fact have pot clubs. However, there are complications. So what cities have marijuana clubs, and what is their status?
- Denver: Multiple cannabis clubs exist in Denver. But keep this on the hush hush; these clubs operate somewhat underground and experience the occasional police bust.
- Colorado Springs: Similarly to Denver, Colorado Springs (about an hour south of Denver) does have existing pot clubs. But, they too try to stay low key, as they try to reduce their occasional drug busts.
- Nederland: This small town, in the mountains of Northern Colorado has a regulated pot club. This club cleverly advertises “out of state, out of country, and of course locals are welcome.”
- Englewood (sort of): This city, just slightly west of Denver did recently allow cannabis clubs. But apparently some city council members were shocked to find out that the city had licensed a pot club – which didn’t last long. Soon after this discovery, they voted (just this month) to not allow any more clubs.
- Pueblo (sort of): This city, a few hours south of Denver allows weed clubs. In fact, the entirety of Pueblo County allows pot clubs; but they don’t have any.
Is There Anywhere Outside of Colorado That Has Pot Clubs?
No other states that have legalized recreational cannabis have marijuana clubs.
Although, Alaska’s Marijuana Control Board voted last year to repeal an explicit ban on social marijuana clubs. But, the state has yet to finish working on allowing people to used marijuana at certain marijuana retailers/sellers.