Pubdate: Wed, 02 Mar 2016
Source: Colorado Springs Independent (CO)
Column: Cannabiz
Copyright: 2016 Colorado Springs Independent
Author: Nat Stein


Clubs in jeopardy

About 20 people marched from Studio A64 on Colorado Avenue to City 
Hall on the evening of Feb. 23 to protest City Council's proposed ban 
on cannabis clubs. Far more - about 150 - packed the chamber for an 
extended public comment hearing.

Heather Witting, who has a background in medical marijuana and now 
works for a local club, elicited cheers when she calmly described the 
current situation in the Springs like the end of Prohibition. "These 
clubs are inevitable," she said. "I don't understand what you're afraid of."

Jered McCusker, co-owner of the One Love Club that is temporarily 
closed due to fire code violations, told councilors he'll sue if he 
can't re-open.

Industry lobbyist Jason Warf expressed incredulity that neither he 
nor any other industry representative was included in the process of 
developing regulations. "Never in my life have I seen the government 
try to regulate an industry without input from that industry," he 
told councilors after having been barred from speaking at the group's 
work session Monday - during the session, Councilor Bill Murray asked 
Warf a question, but he was not permitted to respond. "That's just 
not the way the world works."

Amid the barrage of support for the clubs, two spoke out against 
them. Doug Brown worried they create a nuisance in neighborhoods, 
especially with other clubs and bars nearby. Paul Seeling hoped 
councilors would choose "virtue over vice" and warned about catering 
to the "undercurrent of society."

Councilman Knight brought the proposal to City Council after working 
with several departments - including Planning, Public Safety and the 
Mayor's Office - to put together three options for regulating 
so-called "marijuana consumption clubs."

Option 1 would relegate clubs to parcels zoned for industrial use, at 
least 1,000 feet from a school or drug treatment facility; subject 
them to new licensure; and require a ventilation and filtration system.

Option 2 would do the same as the first, though making the clubs a 
conditional rather than a permitted use.

Under either of the first two options, a "marijuana consumption club" 
would be defined for licensing purposes as "[a]n establishment, 
organization, association, club, teapad [slang for hash bar], or 
other similar entity or place where a purpose is to allow the 
consumption of marijuana, medical marijuana or marijuana product on 
the premises."

The draft licensing ordinances would also prohibit the transfer or 
sale of marijuana; cultivation, manufacturing of marijuana products 
or storage of marijuana; operation between 2 a.m. and 7 a.m.; and 
club access by any person under the age of 21.

On Feb. 18, the City Planning Commission chose Option 3: No new 
cannabis clubs, and existing clubs must shut down by March 2021.

With the public hearing done, the next time you can plug in is at 
City Council's first reading in two weeks. The final vote is set for March 22.

Cup incoming

Since Adams County commissioners denied permits to organizers last 
week, the Colorado Cannabis Cup has been on the hunt for a new home. 
Organizers may have found it in Pueblo County.

The Cannabis Cup is a celebration of all things weed, put on by High 
Times magazine and held only in states that have legalized medical 
and recreational sales. The event features competitions, 
instructional seminars, expositions, celebrity appearances, concerts 
and product showcases - giving the growing cannabis community a place 
to gather, network and fight for political legitimacy of the plant. 
This year's Colorado Cup is scheduled for 4/20 weekend.

Though Denver Mart has hosted the Cup for the past two years, this 
year event organizers were denied a permit. Adams County 
commissioners heard testimony from law enforcement officials who 
raised concerns about crowd control, public consumption and other 
health risks. The County's decision also came a day after legislation 
to create a marijuana-specific special event permit got tabled at the 

So High Times has set its sights on Pueblo County, where marijuana is 
quickly becoming both a cash crop and a boon to tourism. Pueblo 
County Department of Planning and Development is currently reviewing 
a special use permit application submitted by the magazine and local 
property owners Tom and Anna-Marie Giodone, who run an entertainment 
venue in Vineland called "The Yard" (best known for hosting country 
music festival Bands in the Backyard every summer.)

The event is expected to draw 17,000 people a day to the Pueblo area, 
according to KOAA-TV, which also reported that last year the Cup 
brought an estimated $40 million impact to Denver.

Sound like a fun time? Tickets go on sale this week. Under 21? Don't bother.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom