For those of us who live in the less cannabis-friendly regions of the United States and throughout the world, the state of Colorado is a majestically green wonderland, a stoner’s paradise, living proof that marijuana has a place in our society. Thanks to their progressive recreational cannabis laws, Colorado now has a booming tourism industry, and has even seen an influx of new residents that have decided to relocate to its greener pastures.
Still, not all is perfect in Colorado’s cannabis paradise. Those who have tried to launch or join private cannabis clubs have been met with resistance from the state government for quite some time now. This is especially true in the sizable town of Colorado Springs, which has outlawed the sale of recreational marijuana in the city despite the fact that the state legalized this with Amendment 64 in 2012. Now, the Colorado Springs City Clerk’s Office is cracking down on local cannabis consumption clubs, reprimanding nine of these clubs with cease-and-desist letters.
After Colorado Springs decided to outlaw recreational cannabis use, these cannabis clubs were able to exist through a loophole that allowed them to either “trade” cannabis for memberships or sign an affidavit claiming that the club was growing the customer’s six marijuana plants for them. But, in March, a ban was put into effect that forbid these clubs from selling, trading, giving, distributing, or allowing the transfer of marijuana to customers.
For clubs that were prior to September 23, 2015, the ban allowed them to remain open for eight more years, allowing these owners to protect their hefty investment. In order to stay open, however, every one of these owners had to submit an application and a $200 fee to get a one-year renewable license. Just five clubs applied by the deadline, and out of those, only one was approved, while two applications are pending and another two were denied. One of the clubs that was denied is the acclaimed Studio A64, the very first cannabis club in all of Colorado Springs.
Studio A64 is among the nine cannabis consumption clubs to receive a cease-and-desist notice, ordering them to shut their doors because they lack the required licensing. According to Jason Warf, the executive director of the Southern Colorado Cannabis Council, a number of these clubs are appealing the recent cease-and-desist orders, and for good reason.
“This comes after years of these clubs operating without incident,” Warf said. “While it has taken some time to get it right, we now have legislation set to be introduced at the state level in January (to allow the clubs to essentially operate like medical marijuana dispensaries). Our goal would be that the City of Colorado Springs follow this lead and enact regulations that coincide with the efforts at the state level."
Although Colorado itself has been extremely progressive when it comes to the legalization of recreational cannabis, the city of Colorado Springs has been fighting to oppose the state’s legislation. With those nine clubs and their members in the midst of an uphill battle with the city government, rest assured that these cannabis clubs will not go down without a fight, even if the city has their cards stacked against them.