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Colorado Lawmakers Are Considering Opening Amsterdam-Style Cannabis Clubs

Legislators are scared that pot clubs could provoke a federal crackdown.

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Lawmakers in Denver, Colorado are working on regulations to launch a one-year pilot of licensed bring-your-own cannabis clubs. At the same time, state legislators are considering measures that would allow either pot “tasting rooms” at licensed dispensaries, or smoke-friendly pot clubs throughout the state. California and Maine have already agreed to controlled public marijuana consumption, but neither state has settled on regulations, which means Colorado's pot clubs might be the first out of the gate.

Some Colorado officials were opposed to having Amsterdam-style pot clubs, but most have warmed up to the issue after constantly encountering people smoking up on public sidewalks. 

“It’s a problem we’ve got to address,” said state Senator Chris Holbert, who also said that he is constantly harassed by panhandlers asking him for free weed. “I mean, look at me. If I’m getting hassled, everyone’s getting hassled.”

“No voter in Colorado voted to allow the use of marijuana on their sidewalk, in their parks, in their public view,” state Representative Dan Pabon, said. “But that’s essentially what we’ve done by not allowing private club space for marijuana uses.” Although there is general agreement over the idea to create pot clubs, lawmakers still disagree over how the clubs would actually be operate.

Legislators are also concerned that opening these cannabis-friendly clubs would provoke a federal crackdown. “Jeff Sessions is the big question mark right now,” Democratic state Rep. Jonathan Singer said. “I think we need to send a message to him that Colorado’s doing it right.” 

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who is undecided on the issue of pot clubs, said that he doesn't know “whether we’d be inviting federal intervention, but certainly that’s one argument I’ve heard used persuasively.”

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