Thumbs too green
On Aug. 25 county commissioners passed a resolution temporarily limiting households to 12 marijuana plants to prevent larger grow operations in unincorporated El Paso County. It's a bigger problem than folks just possessing too much weed.
"[Illegal growers] are coming and destroying [rental] houses," says Commissioner Peggy Littleton. "[They're] putting in ventilation, lighting, stripping things, adding extra outlets everywhere — basically destroying a rental home to set it up as an illegal grow operation. ... I think it's an abuse of what the law was supposed to be."
Growing more than 12 plants in the unincorporated county is now a violation of the zoning code. County attorneys are working on more permanent options to give commissioners at a future meeting.
Cannabis clubs get serious
KC Stark, Studio A64 owner and statesman of all things dank and sticky, invited state Rep. Kit Roupe, R-Colorado Springs, into his studio Aug. 25 to discuss cannabis legislation — mainly licensing for cannabis clubs. Roupe, it seems, has been doing her homework. Roupe and Stark discussed how other countries have dealt with cannabis clubs, from Uruguay's open-air-only laws to Amsterdam's non-enforcement, to the contained grow-sell-smoke clubs of Spain.
Roupe has drafted a bill to regulate cannabis clubs, and she gave the Independent a copy. Her bill will allow for businesses that can't sell cannabis in any shape or form — strictly BYOB. Clubs can also get licenses to serve food and alcohol on site. Specifics for licensure would be determined community by community.
It's an early, bare-bones draft, and Roupe is looking for input. She will host two stakeholders' meetings to get public comments before presenting the bill in January, likely with support from state Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont. The first meeting will take place at City Hall on Thursday, Sept. 10. The second meeting will be in Denver.
Roupe has invited stakeholders from the District Attorney's office, City Council, Mayor John Suthers and Sheriff Bill Elder, as well as members of regulatory agencies and owners of local cannabis clubs. The public will be welcome as well. All parties agree good legislation isn't written in a vacuum.
They also addressed the elephant in the room: clubs acting like de facto dispensaries by effectively selling cannabis on site.
"I think they're jumping over the ropes," says Roupe. "You cannot sell it in Colorado Springs unless you have a medical license ... and in our county, we decided to ban [recreational sales] with the option to revisit that eventually. And here are those clubs who are flaunting those values and saying 'come and get me.'"
Stark says when he won legal challenges against opening A64, people assumed cannabis clubs could sell cannabis.
"Are those people committing crimes? That's not my decision," says Stark. "But by not having a clear set of definitions, we kind of opened up Pandora's box."