Capitol Conversation: The Future of Marijuana Clubs in Colorado

· Feb. 28, 2017, 3:08 pm
91.5 KRCC

Recreational marijuana clubs, also called social lounges, are allowed in some Colorado communities, but state law is murky on whether or not their existence is legal and how they should be regulated. Two proposals currently moving through the legislature aim to add clarity by requiring either voters or local governments to approve the clubs.

Statehouse reporter Bente Birkeland sat down with Kristen Wyatt of the Associated Press and Luke Perkins of the Durango Herald to discuss the details.

On why some people worry about more clubs opening up across the state:

Perkins: You have the Colorado Association of the Chiefs of Police come in and they were definitely concerned with the public safety issue of having more smokers congregate in these areas, and potentially driving drugged afterwards. And the there was a lot of debate regarding just what the health effects of marijuana smoke are.

Luke Perkins of the Durango Herald and Kristen Wyatt of the Associated Press.Credit Bente Birkeland / Capitol Coverage
Luke Perkins of the Durango Herald and Kristen Wyatt of the Associated Press.

On why there is bipartisan support for the measures despite opposition to marijuana legalization:

Wyatt: When this marijuana campaign was advertised, a lot of people said we're not going to have Amsterdam style clubs. And I think what you're seeing now is now that we're a couple of years in, even critics of marijuana legalization saying, "Well, we have Amsterdam style sidewalks. I smell pot everywhere I go so wouldn’t it be better to get these folks off the street?"  Of course, it's all aimed at visitors.    

On whether a measure could pass this session and be signed into law by the governor:

Wyatt: The governor opposed a Denver measure last year to allow clubs. That passed, though. And just recently, when asked about it he says, "Yes, the argument that this would invite federal intervention. I've heard that argument used persuasively." But he did not say he'd veto it. So his decision here is a real unknown and it's a real question whether these clubs will be allowed.

Capitol Coverage is a collaborative public policy reporting project, providing news and analysis to communities across Colorado for more than a decade. Fifteen public radio stations participate in Capitol Coverage from throughout Colorado.

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