Denver is on the cusp of opening the nation’s first legal marijuana “social club,” a pursuit that has been halted by boundless obstacles that it continues to face. To begin, the state liquor board has prohibited pot use at any place with a liquor license, which make fun areas one may want to smoke weed–like a bar or a restaurant–completely off-limits.
In a news release, state officials expressed the rule is in the best interest of public health and safety, adding both substances increase the risk of motor vehicle crashes more than using just one. The Colorado Restaurant Association agreed.
“They seem to think it’s fine for patrons of bars and concert venues to get blackout drunk, but unacceptable for them to use a far less harmful substance like marijuana instead,” Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the National Marijuana Policy Project told the LA Times. “This rule will not prevent bar-goers from consuming marijuana, but it will ensure that they consume it outside in the alley or on the street rather than inside of a private establishment.”
The government also regulated that all potential weed bars stay twice as far away from schools and other places that attract children–such as sports fields and playgrounds–as liquor stores.
Seemingly, marijuana is not being regarded as fairly as alcohol, though both are recreationally legal. In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize marijuana for recreational use. As a result, they’ve become unofficial pioneers in the space. Other states have followed suit and now look to Colorado and Washington for direction anent what works and what doesn’t. Obviously, marijuana social clubs are an issue. In the five years since legalization, Colorado has yet to open a safe and legal space for marijuana users.
Denver voters approved bring-your-own pot clubs last year and only now is the government doing something about it. The New York Post reports officials are “planning” to start accepting applications for $1,000 club licenses by the end of the month. It’s a step in the right direction, but many hurdles lie ahead. Like this: Prior to establishing a storefront, neighbourhood groups must first “allow” a club to open.
In Colorado, current marijuana laws neither condone or condemn pot social clubs, so as you can imagine, things are quite confusing for people who want to get high in public. Some cities are fine with the prospect, while pot clubs in others must operate discretely, using social media to plan underground events. This unofficial circumstance is similar in other legal-pot states, as earlier this year, state lawmakers foolishly decided against a plan to regulate marijuana clubs statewide.
In 2014, Alaska came close to what could be considered a legal weed bar as its measure allowed for on-site pot consumption at prospective “tasting rooms.” However, like in Denver, regulations have halted efforts. Similar measures approved in California and Massachusetts are prevented from moving forward as well, as rules are still being discussed.
But what is there to discuss? Telling people weed is legal but giving them no space to publicly consume it is like telling a kid to play in the yard when you live in an apartment. If recreational use of the substance is as legal as alcohol, it should be treated just as fairly.
“There are plenty of places where you can consume alcohol,” Jordan Person, head of Denver NORML, which advocates for pot-friendly public policy told NYPost. “Let’s give people a place to go to consume marijuana.”