Cannabis Clubs: Now Coming to Colorado
Cannabis clubs make a splash in Colorado.
Europe beats the United States when it comes to marijuana. Spain, Denmark and Netherlands allow for recreational cannabis use with very little to no legal recourse. In America, the only bits of Amsterdam-like cannabis consumption experienced are through visual entertainment, since U.S. citizens have never legally been allowed to gather in public and partake in smoking. This year may see a change in that, at least for Colorado residents.
Officials in Colorado capital Denver are currently drafting regulations for a trial “BYOW” (bring-your-own-weed) cannabis club program, buying state lawmakers time to sort out the details. These statewide cannabis clubs would either serve as cigar bar-type smoking clubs or more like dispensary tasting rooms, where patrons could puff before or after purchase.
These cannabis clubs or, “social lounges,” as they’ll to be marketed in Colorado, are the state’s attempt at thwarting marijuana consumption in parks, on sidewalks and general open areas. They’ve sporadically existed like low-key weed speakeasies around the state for some time now. Despite being operated by licensed marijuana growers, many have been raided or shut down after attempts by owners to pay taxes or file permits.
Who’s it for?
Democrat and Republican officials in Colorado don’t necessarily have a problem with residents smoking in public, but with tourists passing through. Since marijuana consumption is legal in the privacy of one’s own home, residents typically don’t occupy public space to engage. Tourists don’t have the luxury of locally owned property.
Most hotels don’t allow for smoking in rooms, which forces guests to take a step outside. While everyone agrees there needs to be an out-of-sight option for consumption, so far that’s about all that’s agreed upon.
“No voter in Colorado voted to allow the use of marijuana on their sidewalk, in their parks, in their public view,” state Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver said, as reported by the Associated Press. “But that’s essentially what we’ve done by not allowing private club space for marijuana uses.”
Potential setbacks for Cannabis Clubs
A measure presented to have cannabis clubs ran the same way as cigar bars was put on hold due to the Republican sponsors backing it having concerns of whether medical marijuana patients should be able to use the clubs as well.
“Telling people to socially use their medicine? That’s like we’re legalizing pill parties,” says Rachel O’Bryan, an anti-public use advocate in Colorado.
As the federal government is also as messy with their stance on marijuana legality, the decision as to whether Colorado will see federal backlash is ultimately left up to Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Aside from agreeing to approach the cannabis conundrum like his predecessor Loretta Lynch, Sessions also confirmed with the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing that he would “review and evaluate” the Cole Memorandum, which states that the federal government won’t interfere with however states decide to legalize and regulate marijuana sales and consumption by their adult residents.
Here’s to hoping Denver’s pilot program goes well, as it’ll serve as the blueprint for how other cities and states could outline their programs.