Business owner KC Stark won what he called a historic victory last Thursday, when the Colorado Springs Planning Commission overturned the city's move to close down Stark's cannabis club, Studio A64 (332 E. Colorado Ave., studioa64.com), for allegedly not meeting downtown zoning guidelines.
Commissioners debated creating a new category for the business, but contented themselves with voting 7 to 2 — with Robert Shonkwiler and John Henninger in opposition — that it met the requirements for a private social club. "I do believe city staff was erroneous in making the determination that it's illegal," said Chairman Edward Gonzalez.
Multiple people spoke on behalf of A64, with one club-going former Alabama resident with PTSD telling the commission that he never used to leave the house. "But now I can smile — I can cry," he said. "I go up there a couple times a week and it's changing my life."
Confusion still reigns as to who filed the complaint. The police department's head of code enforcement pointed to the city, while Planning Department director Peter Wysocki pointed back. Ultimately, this caused Commissioner Chuck Donley to tell city staff, "It's possible that it could be argued that staff is the complainant — I haven't heard of that happening in the past," he said. "That's troubling, that the complaint came clearly from the administration."
The city has until Monday, March 3, to appeal the vote to City Council.
Stacks of green
Though groups like the Colorado Futures Center have questioned whether the state would actually reap the tax money projected by Amendment 64 backers, a new funding request from Gov. John Hickenlooper offers a clue: Hell yes, and more.
The governor requested $4.5 million for this fiscal year (through June 30), and $99 million for the next, to fund: youth marijuana-use prevention ($45.5 million); substance-abuse treatment ($40.4 million); public health ($12.4 million); law enforcement/public safety ($3.2 million); regulatory oversight ($1.8 million); and "statewide coordination" ($200,000). The allotments outraged some cannabis advocates, who claimed they reflect the government still treating marijuana as a societal evil.
The request also anticipates that the state's school-construction fund will receive the projected $40 million, which was also in doubt. For comparison, alcohol-related taxes brought in $39 million last year.
Extrapolating backward from the tax rates, The Denver Post says Colorado marijuana could potentially be a billion-dollar industry.
Catch the debut of CNBC's one-hour documentary Marijuana in America: Colorado Pot Rush on Wednesday, Feb. 26, at 8 p.m. MST, which "report[s] on the exploding legal pot market, projected to grow as large as $10 billion nationwide by 2018."