Pubdate: Fri, 24 Jun 2016
Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)
Copyright: 2016 Associated Press
Author: Kristen Wyatt, Associated Press


DENVER (AP) - Legal marijuana is giving Colorado a stinky conundrum. 
Visitors can buy the drug, but they can't use it in public. Or in a 
rental car. Or in most hotel rooms.

The result is something marijuana advocates and opponents alike 
feared - people toking up on sidewalks, in city parks and in alleys 
behind bars and restaurants - despite laws against doing so. And 
they're getting dinged with tickets.

 From Denver to mountain resorts like Aspen and Breckenridge, police 
wrote nearly 800 citations for the new crime of public consumption in 
2014, the first year recreational sales began.

Some legalization advocates believe they have a solution - pot clubs.

Denver voters may consider a ballot measure this fall to make the 
city the most populous place in the nation to expressly allow pot clubs.

"People need a place to go," said Teresa Wright of the Denver suburb 
of Lafayette. Wright was volunteering in Denver recently to gather 
signatures to ask voters this fall about allowing private pot clubs 
in the city.

"You can go out anywhere and see people using alcohol. To socialize, 
to relax. But not marijuana," Wright said.

But marijuana clubs have proven a harder sell here than legalizing 
the drug in the first place.

The amendment that legalized marijuana doesn't give people the right 
to use it "openly or publicly," a nod to critics who said 
legalization would lead to an explosion of Amsterdam-style clubs.

But Colorado's constitution doesn't ban public use, either, leading 
to a confusing patchwork of local policies on weed clubs.

Denver and Colorado Springs have existing pot clubs, but the clubs 
operate somewhat underground with occasional police busts.

The northern Colorado town of Nederland regulates a club that 
advertises, "out of state, out of country, and of course locals are welcome."

In southern Colorado, Pueblo County allows clubs but has none.

No other states with legal recreational pot have licensed clubs, either.

Concerns about pot clubs mirror worries about legalizing the drug.

Law enforcement officials have said the clubs could lead to more 
impaired driving, though there's no evidence that existing 
underground clubs have been linked to traffic accidents or crime.

"There's no good regulatory model for what these clubs should look 
like," said Colorado Rep. Jonathan Singer.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom