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Cannabis Club Showdown Looms Between Colorado Governor, Lawmakers

March 21, 2017
DENVER (AP) — Colorado lawmakers moved closer Monday to a showdown with the governor over cannabis clubs.

A House committee voted 8-3 to approve a bill giving local governments a roadmap to allowing private marijuana clubs. The clubs could allow indoor smoking, if they have fewer than three employees.

“The goal here is to give folks a space where they can consume” marijuana, said Rep. Dan Pabon, a Denver Democrat and sponsor of the bill.

The bill also has Republican supporters who say clubs would keep cannabis smoking out of parks and other public areas. It has already passed the GOP Senate.

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But Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper told reporters recently that he opposes the cannabis club bill if it allows indoor smoking.

He said it’s a bad idea to invite attention to Colorado as a new president takes office and sends mixed messages about whether state marijuana experiments will be allowed to continue.

Anti-smoking activists say the bill could send the signal that smoking inside is OK, even under limited circumstances.

“Smoking is bad for you — very bad for you,” Hickenlooper said earlier this month.

Sponsors counter that the clubs would still be subject to the Clean Indoor Air Act, which bans indoor smoking unless the establishment has no more than three employees. The bill bars the clubs from serving food beyond pre-packages snacks or coffee; state liquor code bars any club from selling alcohol.

Pabon and other supporters repeatedly mentioned indoor smoking during testimony Monday. Colorado already has a patchwork of private cannabis clubs, but the law is unclear about whether cannabis clubs are OK and many existing clubs are word-of-mouth “smokeasies.”

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“We have at best a piecemeal approach to public consumption,” Pabon argued.

But anti-smoking activists oppose the bill, saying it could send the signal that smoking inside is OK, even under limited circumstances.

Bob Doyle of the American Lung Association warned that Colorado is “opening a Pandora’s Box” if it opens the door to statewide cannabis clubs.

No other marijuana state has regulated cannabis clubs, though underground cannabis-sharing clubs exist even in states where the plant remains illegal. Voters in California and Maine last year approved legalization measures that allow for social consumption but regulations in those states are still being worked out.

Colorado’s cannabis club bill awaits a vote by the full House, though sponsors hint that amendments are likely, meaning the bill would have to return to the Senate before hitting the governor’s desk.

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  • Hseus

    We really need to just go to war over this. Either kill the morons insisting on controlling other people’s lives or we will kill the idiot prohibitionists and everyone left can live in peace. Trying to change things from within the system is ONLY causing more harm to innocent people.

    • lovingc

      How? I don’t see any harm here.

    • Ken J Boyd

      +Hseus “go to war”? “kill the morons”? “kill the idiot prohibitionists”? ” live in peace”? This is oxymoronic, Definitely NOT living in peace.

      • Hseus

        When being peaceful and doing nothing worthy of criminalization (as is the current situation) ends up getting you arrested, harassed and essentially have your life destroyed by unjust laws enforced by idiots, yes it’s time to kill those idiots. Peaceful doesn’t work while they are around, we get to live in peace once they are gone.

  • lovingc

    Hickenlooper doesn’t seem to be aware that smoking cannabis is not like smoking tobacco.It does not cause cancer it cures it.

    • Ken J Boyd

      That is wishful thinking, although I said the same things for years. But the medical research is clear that whether it be smoke from tobacco, marijuana, wood, etc., all smoke, pollution & other contaminants in the air are unhealthy for the lungs. That does NOT mean that the gov. has a right to punish anybody for any of it. We are adults, & it is our choice. I am moving toward other ways to consume it. Smoke of any kind assaults the lungs.

  • 360dunk

    What are these goons so afraid of? You legalize liquor and let people open bars. You legalize cannabis and you should let people open clubs to give the public a safe place to enjoy it. Why is this even a bone of contention? Remove this plant from Schedule I and we won’t even be needing this discussion.