Medical leaf symbol
So far, pot smokers are not trudging west to inhale the benefits of legal marijuana in Colorado.
But those days and nights are foreseeable.
A pot smoking club opened in Denver for Super Bowl Sunday, where people could bring their own stash, light up, watch the game and eat snacks. Club 64 opens on special occasions at 2549 Welton St.
In November, Colorado voters legalized pot smoking as well as the possession of an ounce or less, and legalized growing three plants in a person’s home.
The state legislature is working on the finer regulations of retail shops, discussing taxes and licenses. Lawmakers have until July 1 to create regulations for recreational pot stores. It will be next January before the state issues licenses for businesses.
Meanwhile, local governments can choose to prohibit marijuana parlors as well as cultivation, manufacturing and testing facilities, under the new law.
But Club 64 is open anyway, leading a cutting edge of pot smoking parlors. Owner Robert J. Corry, Jr., said the company is “pleased to advance the constitutional rights that Colorado voters wisely extended to us.”
Corry told the Aspen Daily News that customers have an historic opportunity to consume cannabis in a safe and enjoyable environment, enjoying the company of a diverse crowd who loves freedom.
Prohibition only ends once, he said. Now is the time to celebrate.
“Those who attend our parties will have stories to tell their grandchildren. Those who miss the parties miss out on history,” he said.
Patrons at Club 64 paid $30 for a one-year membership, plus a $10 cover charge to get in on Super Bowl Sunday.
Other pioneer pot parlors are the Front Tea & Art Shop in Boulder and the Freaky Emporium in Brush, 90 miles east of Denver.
The Freaky Emporium opened last fall and started inviting people age 21 and over to partake in the personal use of marijuana. But the new law prohibits public smoking, and that restriction was used to close the place down, according to a report in the Boulder Daily Camera newspaper.
In Boulder, the Front Tea & Art Shop continues to operate. Customers can smoke their own there, but only in vaporizers. That way they don’t conflict with the state’s indoor ban on smoking.
Attorneys for pot clubs think they can challenge the state's ban on indoor smoking, when it comes to pot, because the indoor clean act expressly refers to tobacco, but not marijuana.
Boulder city officials are considering a ban on pot smoking, but if they do, Boulder attorney Jeffrey Gard, who represents a number of medical marijuana dispensary owners, said a legal challenge will ensue, the Daily Camera reported.
Westminster has already banned retail shops. Steamboat Springs and Lafayette are considering bans.
Nearer Nebraska, there has been discussion among business owners in the Sterling area about opening a new marijuana smoking parlor, but no one seems to be doing anything actively, according to the Logan County Chamber of Commerce.
The Logan County commissioners are expected to decide if a parlor will be allowed locally, or if they should be banned by a local ordinance.
Sterling is 140 miles west of North Platte on the Interstate.
In Sedgwick, 93 miles west of North Platte, a medical marijuana dispensary is opening in a couple weeks.
The dispensary is Dacono Meds. It would be the second medical dispensary for owner Brad Hensen, according to Chelsey Kizer of the Julesburg Advocate newspaper. Hensen’s first shop is in Dacono, in the Boulder-Ft. Collins area.
But that shop was closed Dec. 31 by the Dacono city council, Hensen told the Bulletin, along with two other medical marijuana dispensaries -- MaryJane's Medicinal and Green Medicals. The council was divided. They voted 4-3 and set a special election.
Residents will vote May 7 to decide if the dispensaries can re-open.
Hensen said the dispensaries generate thousands of dollars each year in sales taxes for local communities. He is looking forward to opening in Sedgwick in a couple weeks, when state and local permits are in place.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper insists he will take steps to ensure that residents of the 48 states where marijuana remains illegal, such as Nebraska, won’t be making constant runs to the border to refresh their supplies.
It remains to be seen just what those steps will be.
The federal government holds an axe over the entire process because national laws prohibit the use of marijuana, which effectively prevents banks from working with marijuana businesses.
But it would be a huge job for federal law officers to police Colorado, plus there would be conflicts over jurisdictions.
When Colorado legalized medical marijuana a decade ago, cameras were installed in dispensaries that officials said would be hooked to the Internet, so auditors could check the comings and goings there anytime day or night, but the cameras have not been used and are not working, according to a Denver Post report. The cameras are now considered financially and practically unfeasible, a state marijuana enforcement spokeswoman told the Denver Post recently.
While lawyers and lawmakers wrangle with how to implement legalization, pot dealers and smokers are eager to get going. Craigslist ads claim to be giving away marijuana, but with a twist to get away from the legal prohibition on the sale of marijuana. People seeking marijuana pay only for the delivery, or they sponsor something or they make a donation.
One ad offered free medical marijuana at Bud’s Worm Farm. The ad said people cannot legally buy pot at this time, but he would give it away for sponsorship of his red wiggler worms. Sponsor 100 worms and get an eighth-ounce of pot, a CBS television station in Denver reported.
A spokesperson for the Colorado Department of Revenue said the ads didn’t appear to have come from current medical marijuana providers.
This report was first published Feb. 6 in the print edition of the North Platte Bulletin.