Since 2013, as we reported last year, iBake Denver, a marijuana smoking club, has been operating openly and without problems at its location in Adams County.
But now the county is trying to shut it down — and Denver NORML is crying foul.
At the time, iBake's co-owner, who goes by the nom de plume Thurlow Weed, told us that a key to the business's success was its location outside the Denver city limits.
"We've specifically not gone into Denver proper, because Denver has been quite strict about letting people know it's not something they currently want in their city," Weed said.
The roots of iBake Denver can be traced to iBake Radio, an Internet radio station Weed launched several years ago. Then, shortly after the November 2012 passage of Amendment 64, the measure that legalized limited recreational marijuana sales in Colorado, he decided to expand the operation to include a place where cannabis lovers could get together to consume.
Hence the February 15, 2013 launch of iBake Denver. But despite its name, the business' location, on the 6100 block of Washington Street, isn't in Denver. Rather, the club is just beyond the Denver County line in Adams County.
While Weed declined to get specific about the operation's specific approach to remaining on the right side of the law, he offered a few insights into iBake Denver's practices. He noted that the club sold memberships for $10 per month, with an additional $2 membership fee for each visit during that month.
Marijuana Deals Near You
Otherwise, he stressed that "iBake Denver has successfully stayed open...in part by following all of Colorado's rules and regulations — especially when it comes to the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act."
Law enforcement was keenly aware of iBake, as Weed acknowledged.
"The Adams County Sheriff's Office and the paramedics have been here a couple of times," he allowed last year. "One involved a lady who was supposed to be on a medication, but she stopped taking it, and she had a seizure while she was at the club. She hadn't consumed much cannabis, but we called the paramedics, and the deputies came, too. But after they asked her if she'd purchased anything from us and she said no, since we don't sell anything, they left without any problem.
"Another time, a tourist had purchased a 100 mg edible from a dispensary and consumed it before he came in," he goes on. "He got a membership so he could hang out for a few hours before his plane arrived, but when he was talking to my fiancee" — Littletree Oppy, co-owner of iBake Denver — "he passed out and we couldn't wake him right away; we found out later he hadn't smoked or had an edible for fourteen years. So we called the paramedics again, and the deputies came that time, too. But when he was coherent enough to talk to them, he said he hadn't purchased the edible from us. And the deputies were fine with that.
"As he was leaving," Weed adds, "one of the deputies said he liked the place, because they didn't have any issues with us, like they did with the bar down the street."
But if the sheriff's office knew all about iBake, other segments of Adams County government did not.
According to county spokesman Jim Siedlecki, speaking to 7News, officials only became aware of iBake after citizen complaints about a 4/20 event planned for this year — and he maintains that it's zoned as a motorcycle repair shop.
Several inspections followed, and now, Adams County will seek an injunction against the business for violating zoning ordinances during a court appearance scheduled for June.
This action frustrates Judd Golden, an attorney and active participant in Denver NORML.
Golden shared a letter sent to iBake by the county — see an image of it below — as well as Denver NORML's response, which reads in part:
The Denver Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (Denver NORML) is disappointed in this action, and is sympathetic to iBake and its members, who have enjoyed consumption of marijuana in a private club social setting for several years.
Unfortunately, the law in Adams County and in most of Colorado is not friendly to the needs of people who by legal marijuana and want a safe, legal place to consume socially outside private homes.
Legalization under Amendment 64 prohibits “open and public” consumption, and this has been interpreted by most government to prohibit private clubs like iBake. The answer is making marijuana clubs licensed and regulated, like what we are doing in Denver: the Initiative for Private Marijuana Social Clubs and Special Events.
Denver NORML hopes Adams County can find a way to let iBake continue to serve marijuana consumers. We are also hopeful that Denver voters will approve our measure so similar clubs and other business models can open in Denver in 2017.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Continue to see the aforementioned letter, followed by 7News' report about iBake's current legal dilemma.