Englewood's City Council postponed its decision on marijuana consumption clubs Monday night as it gathers more information and waits for the results of tonight's local election, in which four new council seats will be assigned.
In October, the Englewood Liquor and Medical Marijuana Licensing Authority presented a drafted ordinance that would set guidelines for potential marijuana consumption clubs while also placing a cap on the number of them allowed in city limits. The ordinance prohibited those under the age of 21 from entering and set air-quality-control guidelines to keep odors from traveling outside the establishment. The new council is expected to vote soon on either accepting the ordinance or imposing another six-month moratorium on new pot clubs as it wraps its collective mind around the potential issues of welcoming social marijuana consumption to town. There is a current moratorium on pot clubs that ends in January.
"The new council is going to have a lot to say about it," Councilman Steven Yates says. "I don’t know what direction that is going to be."
Yates, who has two more years left on his term, says the marijuana industry is a legitimate business but the council must perform its due diligence in identifying best practices before allowing new pot clubs in the city. Englewood, which allows medical marijuana sales but bans recreational dispensaries, currently has one social marijuana consumption club, iBake Englewood. Those who consume marijuana at iBake Englewood and the few other marijuana clubs in Colorado must first sign up and pay for a membership, which grants entrance to the club and the opportunity to socially consume among others.
Because it opened its doors before Englewood's current moratorium, iBake Englewood was grandfathered in and will be allowed to stay open if a new moratorium is enacted. iBake Englewood's owners could not be reached for comment at this writing.
Yates says that other than outside odors and limiting minor consumption, the council must tackle concerns with fire safety, club members leaving the establishment under the influence, and indoor air quality for employees.
"I was there for 30-35 minutes, and then I walked outside and sat down," he says. "I had a little buzz going on."
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A member of the Englewood Liquor and Medical Marijuana Licensing Authority suggested that one way to stop members from driving under the influence was to put a limit on the amount of marijuana members are allowed to bring to these clubs. Yates thinks a little more time to apply traditional licensing and zoning requirments to an uncommon business is required to make sure Englewood's implementation works.
"In (city) code, it doesn’t necessarily address this type of environment," he says. "If we’re going to bring the limelight to us, I want it to be a success."
The limelight of Colorado could certainly be on Englewood if it enacts the ordinance, as no other towns in the Denver metro area currently issue licenses for marijuana consumption clubs. The City of Denver, which nearly had to vote on social marijuana consumption this year after a now-retracted ballot initiative received double the required signatures, does not allow marijuana consumption clubs.
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