Earlier this month, we reported that Englewood had voted to prohibit marijuana clubs in the wake of controversy over iBake, a pot-consumption business with storefronts in the community and Adams County, where officials announced that they were looking at ways to shut down the one there after three years of operation and no reported problems.
Despite the Englewood ban, iBake's co-owner, Thurlow Weed, expressed his hope that his venue in the community would be grandfathered in by the city council. But a memo authored by acting city attorney Dugan Comer in advance of a city council study session that's scheduled for tonight outlines the rationale Englewood can use to shutter iBake permanently, and suggests that any lawsuits over the action would be unsuccessful.
In our earlier item, we noted that officials were sure to be annoyed by the description iBake Englewood used in its new business application, submitted prior to its 2015 opening. The application says the store would specialize in selling "hats, shirts, photographs, cigarettes, pipes, other forms of tobacco (i.e. chewing, e-cigs, etc.)."
"We're kind of like a Costco membership pipe-and-tobacco shop," Weed told us during a previous interview.
This explanation doesn't appear to have impressed Comer, who did not reply to an interview request from Westword. After highlighting the "hats, shirts" section of the business application, he writes: "Nowhere on the license does it indicate that they were operating as a social club, or as a social club for the consumption of marijuana by the general public. In fact, when asked if they offered any other type of services, the answer was no or not applicable."
The memo goes on to point out that when Englewood moves to take action against a licensed business, it must follow revocation procedures that include a provisional order to comply and an opportunity for the owner to request a hearing and appeal to the city manager if the decision goes against him or her.
Litigation could also follow.
In the memo, however, Comer shares his belief that the city would be in a very strong position to win, citing Denver's thus-far-successful efforts to defend its anti-pot-club stance as an example — and even if iBake prevailed, the worst that could happen would be the reinstatement of iBake's operating license.
"Despite the claim that they are only open to their members," Comer allows, "these clubs, including iBake, have advertised their establishments via social and print media, to the general public and holding themselves out as a safe place to smoke marijuana with others, which in turn violated Amendment 64's prohibition on public consumption, and again bolsters the fact that these establishments are not truly an exclusive membership club and therefore exempt from the prohibition of public consumption."
Against this backdrop, Denver NORML is continuing to collect signatures for a ballot measure to allow pot clubs in Denver.
The Englewood City Council study session gets under way at 6 p.m. at 1000 Englewood Parkway's community room. For more details, click here.
Read the memo below.