City Council Bans Cannabis Clubs

Written by Patrick Glastonbury

Colorado Springs has just made it much harder to legally consume marijuana within city limits, as the City Council has recently banned the operation of cannabis clubs.

The City Council, which passed a ban on recreational marijuana clubs back in 2013, passed the new ban on cannabis clubs last Tuesday, March 22. The City Council voted in a 6-3 decision to enact the ban, though not without inciting the ire of proponents of cannabis clubs. Opponents of the decision have vowed to sue the city over the final ruling.

The controversy revolves around the interpretation of Colorado Amendment 64, the popular ballot initiative that legalized marijuana consumption for those 21 and older. Colorado Springs’ Mayor John Suthers, who once served as Colorado’s attorney general, proposed the ban to the City Council, claiming that the amendment makes no provision regarding the allowance of cannabis clubs.

Cannabis clubs, which essentially function as bars for smokers, have similarly been banned throughout Washington State and in Portland, Ore. However, unlike bars, cannabis clubs in the Springs have done some legal gymnastics to offer their products without violating the ban on the sale of recreational weed in Colorado Springs. They also allow visitors to bring their own supply to use at the clubs, where patrons are then provided smoking ‘devices’ to use.

Opponents of cannabis clubs argue that the workaround these clubs use to provide pot to patrons (generally in the form of “donations” or “membership dues”) violates the ban on recreational pot selling in the city. Advocates, on the other hand, say that the ban is an undue violation of their rights as guaranteed by Amendment 64.

Colorado Springs has six different cannabis clubs, with some advertising themselves as vape lounges and others as a place to indulge in concentrates, like dabs. The recently enacted ban does allow eight years for the owners of clubs in operation before Sept. 23, 2015 to scale down their businesses without severe personal cost, but as of March 22, it is illegal to establish a new cannabis club.

Marijuana is a familiar feature of the social life here at Colorado College, and several students use marijuana medicinally for the treatment of various conditions.

A junior with a medical card for shoulder tendonitis said, “I think it is complete and utter garbage that the city voted this ban through.”

He continued, “I think the hardworking citizens of Colorado Springs deserve to end their day with a fat dab and enlightening conversation.” The junior from Chicago also noted that it was one of the best ways for CC students to engage with the broader Colorado Springs community.

A senior from Baltimore felt differently. “I always got so high and paranoid when I was [at a cannabis club], and it seemed super sketchy and not chill,” she said. Though she likes the idea of cannabis clubs, in practice, they proved to be less appealing for her than she initially thought.

Though not all students enjoy attending cannabis clubs, those that do certainly regret the City Council’s decision. Fortunately for them, the legal dispute regarding the decision will most likely be prolonged, and existing clubs will continue to serve their patrons for at least the short term.

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