Around 20 people marched from Studio A64 on Colorado Ave to City Hall Tuesday evening to protest City Council’s proposed ban on new cannabis clubs. Far more — around 150 — packed the chamber in an extended public comment hearing.
Heather Witting, who has a background in medical marijuana, elicited cheers when she calmly described the current situation in the Springs like the end of prohibition. “These clubs are inevitable,” she said. “I don’t understand what you’re afraid of.”
Jered McCusker, owner of the One Love club that is temporarily closed due to fire code violations, told Council that if he can’t re-open, he’ll sue.
Jason Warf, lobbyist for the industry, expressed incredulity that he wasn’t included in the process of developing regulations. “Never in my life have I seen the government try to regulate an industry without input from that industry,” he told Council after having been barred from speaking at the work session Monday. “That’s just not the way the world works.”
Out of the nearly 40 who testified, two men spoke out against the clubs. One worries they create a nuisance in neighborhoods, especially with other clubs and bars nearby. Another told the City Council he hoped they would choose “virtue over vice” and warned that legal marijuana brings out the “undercurrent of society.”
Councilor Don Knight brought the proposal to Council after working with several departments — including Planning, Public Safety and the Mayor’s Office — to put together three options for regulating so-called “marijuana consumption clubs.” Last week they decided to recommend the third option: no new cannabis clubs and existing clubs have to shut down by March 2021.
Council will give the ban a first reading in two weeks with a final vote expected March 22.