Mayor targets cannabis clubs
Recently, Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers met with City Council to reveal his coming legislative priorities. Among goals like buying body cameras for the Colorado Springs Police Department and banning home-based hash-oil extractions was regulating cannabis social clubs. The companies are something of a Springs specialty, with at least seven in operation that we're aware of.
Regulatory efforts in this area have been minimal so far. Under the direction of Mayor Steve Bach, the city in late 2013 did try to close downtown's Studio A64, one of the earliest to open, by saying it violated zoning conditions. However, owner KC Stark appealed to City Council, which eventually voted in his favor and overturned the decision. Nothing else has been mentioned by the city until now.
Unfortunately, we can't tell you what Suthers — who wrote in a 2012 Gazette editorial that "legalizing pot is wrong for Colorado" — would like to see because the new mayor "is not interested in doing an interview on this topic at this time," writes spokeswoman Kim Melchor in an email. Asked for more information, Melchor says, "The city is in the beginning stages of developing an ordinance regarding marijuana social clubs and is working to present something to the public later this summer. However, at this time we do not have enough information to provide any interviews."
Councilor Jill Gaebler says she's now the designated legislator working with staff on the regulations, but also says that nothing has been finalized.
Regardless of what comes down the pipeline, there isn't a clear imperative to act, says Lt. Mark Comte with CSPD's Metro Vice, Narcotics and Intelligence Division.
"I haven't gotten a lot of calls," he says. Elaborating on the current situation, he adds, "There's so much vagueness in the law right now that we just don't really have a dog in the fight, and the resources to really go after it until we're asked to or ordered to, or it becomes a significant issue with it as far as the public's concern. But we have not been directed in any way to really be aggressive against these clubs because there's really no laws that are in place that they would technically be violating."
Either way, Jaymen Johnson, owner of the popular Speak Easy Vape Lounge, welcomes regulation.
"I've always been a big proponent for it," Johnson says. "[Clubs should] function much like would an alcohol bar, where it's for on-site consumption; that they're not supposed to leave with it; that we're not packaging and selling in large quantity. ... The model has already proved viable in alcohol in the past. ... We just need to learn our lessons from that. These serve a purpose within the community, but they need to be regulated in the same fashion."
• Manitou Springs is considering allowing the two recreational-marijuana stores in town to extend their hours from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. after both Emerald Fields and Maggie's Farm approached the city, reports the Pikes Peak Bulletin (which, disclosure, is owned by Indy publisher John Weiss).
"Extending those two hours a day, seven days a week, would generate income for them and revenue for us," Councilman Randy Hodges told the newspaper.
The move comes after several contentious ballot measures within the small town, culminating last year in a 64-to-36-percent vote to keep the stores. That mood was echoed in a later letter to the editor in the Bulletin: "I wish this City Council and Chamber of Commerce would put half the energy into helping our existing businesses thrive and prosper that they do in the seemingly vested success they have of a pot shop," wrote Keith Ahrens.
• The Medical Marijuana Scientific Advisory Council will meet publicly at 8:30 a.m., Friday, June 26, in the Carson Room at 4300 Cherry Creek Drive South in Glendale. The agenda includes discussion of bylaws, grant contracts, the focus of future meetings and, most prominently, the petition to add post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of conditions considered by the state to be treatable with marijuana.