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Colorado Cannabis Tourism Guide: Welcome to the Club Ned Experience

December 1, 2015

The locals around the mountain town of Nederland, Colorado, have been raising some of America’s best homegrown cannabis since the '60s. “There are a lot of fragrant tool sheds and storerooms around here,” one local farmer told Leafly during a recent visit. When legalization arrived two years ago, Nederland was ready. The 1,500 residents in this former mining outpost, 8,233 feet high in the Rockies, support two grow supply stores, an uncounted number of commercial grows, two retail cannabis shops, and the state’s first licensed cannabis consumption club.

It was the club that brought us here. We drove up from Boulder, about 30 minutes away, to partake in the Club Ned experience on a chilly autumn weeknight. It took some doing to find the place. There’s no neon beacon in the window, just a small sign on a high wooden fence.

A knock on the gate brought David Fanelli, who co-owns the establishment with his wife Cheryl.

“Welcome to Club Ned!” he said. He adjusted a worn brown hat that looked like it had once been crushed by a truck. “Are you a member, or is this your first visit?”

We followed Fanelli past the gate and into the funky living room that is Chez Ned. After ponying up the $10 membership fee and agreeing to the house rules, David and Cheryl welcomed us to a place at the table. A local gentleman sat across from us rolling tight joints with the house blend, a homegrown Trainwreck. (It’s not legal to sell or purchase cannabis at the club, but it’s okay to share.)

A borrowed lighter started up a short spliff of Durban Poison purchased earlier in the day at The Farm down in Boulder.

We asked David and Cheryl to tell us a little about the club.

“We used to run a dispensary here in Nederland,” Cheryl said. “When the new state regulations came in, we decided it wasn’t for us.” They considered opening a lab, but then realized it would be a lot more fun to open a place to legally consume.

It took them a while to convince local officials to let them do it. Nederlanders are funky, independent, and sometimes ornery, but they do have a functioning city government. “People around town trusted us,” Cheryl said. “They knew us from when we ran the dispensary.”

Trust only went so far, though. “Some people were terrified at the idea” of a private consumption club, Cheryl said. “They were expecting a body count.”

Despite the fears of some neighbors, the club has experienced no fights, no illegal sales, and no underage violations (and, of course, no body count).

As we talked, smoke curled up around us. The club feels like–and probably was–a converted rec room. Surrounded by wood paneled walls, the communal table was littered with ash trays, lighters, and a copy of Skunk magazine. David offered a beverage–coffee, tea, or hot chocolate, only a dollar.

“We’ve also got candy,” said Cheryl, who waved at a shelf of Reese’s, Twix, and KitKats.

Club Ned welcomes about 100 new members a month, and they’ve registered more than 1,500 in total.

“So who comes here?” we asked.

“People from all over,” David said. “Most people who stop by are travelers.” They’ve had visitors from all 50 states and 21 countries. Visitors from the nearby hotel will stop by twice a day. “It’s like I’m on vacation with them!” David said, laughing. “There are folks from Minnesota in town now. They’ll probably stop by later tonight.”

Any celebrities?

“We’ve had a few,” David said. “Some of them want to keep it a secret, but those are usually the ones who roll up in a limo!”

Nederland doesn’t see a lot of limos.

The house rules include a ban on alcohol. Why so?

“We didn’t want to deal with alcohol,” David said. “I gave up drinking 28 years ago. I didn’t like the person it made me. With cannabis, I liked the person it made me.”

“We didn’t think they should be together,” added Cheryl. “A lot of cannabis people aren’t alcohol people. There are plenty of bars in town. This is a safe haven from that.”

The Fanellis said they found that alcohol tended to generate a different vibe. A drunk from a nearby bar can crash the tone. “I haven’t ever had to ask anyone to leave,” said David, but he came close with a couple who arrived intoxicated.

“Their energy was way different,” Cheryl said, tactfully.

As the Durban achieved its desired effect, we chatted the hour away with the Fanellis, discussing music and politics and the great cannabis knowledge gap. “We tend to do a lot of educating,” David said. “A lot of people come here form out of state and all they’ve known is whatever their dealer has been selling them. I ask what strain they’ve been using and they say, ‘I have no idea.’ So we talk to them about the different effects strains can have on different people.”

He tells them to go home and start a journal. “Write down the different strains you’re trying. Start educating yourself.”

Duly noted. We wrote down “DP + Club Ned = A most pleasant evening.”


Your Nederland, Colorado Travel Guide

Thinking of taking a trip to Nederland? Here are some recommendations for lodging, dispensaries, food, and other activities.

Where to stay:

The 1st Inn Nederland is a cozy log cabin-themed hotel that was formerly a Best Western. It's just a short walk from downtown Nederland, making it a great hub for all your activities (and, as a bonus to pet owners, it's pet friendly!).

Where to purchase:

There are a number of recreational and medical dispensaries to choose from in Nederland. Check out Canary’s Song or one of Growhouse's locations.

Where to consume:

Club Ned is open from 10am-ish to 9pm-ish every day. Prepare to pay a $10 daily membership fee (or $14.20 for one month's access) and to BYOC (Bring Your Own Cannabis). Snacks are available for purchase.

Where to eat:

Kathmandu Restaurant offers Authentic Nepali & Indian fare. Or you could try the Wild Mountain Smokehouse & Brewery, which serves up tasty BBQ pork, brisket, and other delectable barbecue with a great selection of local beers.

If you want to quell your sweet tooth, try the New Moon Bakery, a classic hippie bakery located next to Canary's Song.

Where to ski:

Eldora Mountain Resort is a 10-minute drive away, and a local bus runs every 30 minutes.

Don’t miss:

Browse away an enchanting hour at Nature's Own, a one-of-a-kind rock, gem, and fossil shop. We recommend a visit after you pop into Club Ned, located two blocks away.