Denver Cops Raid POTUS, Grassroots Pot Clubs on 4/20 Weekend

Over 4/20 weekend, the Denver Police Department tweeted that cops weren't "hatin'" — but they issued approximately 160 citations at Civic Center Park anyhow, most of them for public consumption of marijuana.

Turns out, though, that officers were busy at two other locations — a pair of alleged pot clubs that were reportedly subjected to undercover raids.

The venues in question are POTUS Club, at 1395 Alameda Avenue, and Grassroots Colorado, at 2209 Larimer Street.

Multiple people were cited at both locations.

If the address for POTUS Club looks familiar, it should. 

The site was once the home of Sugar House, which Patricia Calhoun described in a 2012 post as "the swingers club that Scottie Ewing opened in this building at 1395 West Alameda Avenue in 2007, and Alameda Grille, the G-rated alter-ego weekday restaurant that opened in the space last summer [2011]."

Calhoun added that Ewing "moved from Colorado late last year, several months after he made a splash with his allegations that Michael Hancock, then in the run-off for Denver mayor, had been a customer of Denver Players, the hip hooker service he'd d run. Ewing had sold that business and gone on to open first a swinger's club in northwest Denver, then Sugar House."

As for POTUS, police maintain that it's a pot club — a venue that allows customers to publicly consume marijuana.

Mayor Hancock has long been one of the most vocal opponents of such clubs. In 2013, Hancock said,  "I don't believe it is wise to open the door even wider for people to move about our public from a private club to their private home while consuming marijuana. And the more we restrict it, to me, the more safe our community will be. There's no reason we need to open up that Pandora's box when the law doesn't speak to it.

"I propose and advocate for the most restrictive regulatory environment for marijuana," he added, "and I believe that by allowing for private clubs, it doesn't speak to that value."

Against that backdrop came a raid on POTUS Club that took place on Saturday, April 18. The venue's budtender, Chris Jetter, posted a portion of the arrest report on his Facebook page.

We've included the screen capture below. But a summary notes that at around 3:15 p.m. that afternoon, a pair of officers "acting in undercover capacity in plain clothes, under audio surveillance, and issued pre-recorded currency to purchase illegal marijuana," turned up at POTUS.

There, one of the officers purchased a membership to the club, while the other, who was already a member, went to the bud bar to buy cannabis.

He wound up buying approximately six grams of Maui Apple from Jetter.

After paying his $25 membership fee, the other officer did the same. The cost: $60.

At that point, the second officer "gave the pre-determined bust signal" and members of the Denver Police Department's vice narcotics bureau swept in to serve a search warrant. Jetter and another man were taken into custody, charged with illegally selling marijuana.

The report concludes: "At no point did either arrested party ask the undercover officers for a red medical marijuana card and the establishment is not a licensed marijuana business."

According to 9News, three others were cited at POTUS as well, bringing the total to five. And the station reports that another five citations were handed out at Grassroots.

The latter establishment's Facebook page is loaded with 4/20 posts, including this video....

Things are just getting started at the shop. Free music, food and drinks until 10pm.

Posted by Grassroots Colorado (2209 Larimer) on Sunday, April 19, 2015

In the midst of these items, however, comes this message, shared at 7:27 p.m. on Sunday, April 19: "Closed until further notice, happy 4/20 everyone!!! The movement continues to fight on...."

The next post, from the following day, has happier news. It reads: "We are open! Happy 420 and happy anniversary to GRC!!!! Let's make history today. ?#?happy420? ?#?itsamovement? ?#?themovementcontinues?."

In a comment to 9News, a Denver police spokeswoman doesn't confirm that the raids at POTUS Club and Grassroots Colorado were timed to the 4/20 weekend.

But the arrests are likely to fuel another push to allow such clubs, which would seem to offer an answer to what some officials see as the problem of public consumption at places like Civic Center Park.

Here's the aforementioned screen capture from the POTUS Club police report.

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts