Earlier this month, we told you about what customers at Maryjane's 420 Shop and Social Club characterized as a raid on the establishment by the Denver Police Department. The DPD doesn't refer to the action this way, but whatever's the most accurate definition, Maryjane's remains closed weeks after the fact.
Such a policy may be tougher to justify in the face of public support for members-only pot clubs -- and in a new poll, a large majority of respondents backed the concept.
As our Thomas Mitchell reported, the debate over whether or not marijuana social clubs are allowed under Colorado law has been raging since well before limited legal recreational sales launched on January 1.
In April 2013, Hancock appeared before a Denver City Council subcommittee to talk marijuana. And during his time in the spotlight, he made it clear that if he had his way, pot would be tightly regulated and clubs for those who want to consume it would be banned.
At the session, Hancock framed his objections to marijuana clubs around the issuing of driving while stoned. He maintained that cops had only recently gotten a handle on how to tell if someone is suffering from THC impairment -- a claim certain to be disputed by law-enforcement types, since the behavior has long been illegal -- and suggested that such venues would put even more dangerous potheads on the road.
"We remind ourselves that we're still dealing with a federally controlled substance," he said, adding, "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.
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"I propose and advocate for the most restrictive regulatory environment for marijuana," he went on, "and I believe that by allowing for private clubs, it doesn't speak to that value."
The overwhelming majority of those quizzed on this topic by pollsters from Quinnipiac University feel otherwise. The poll, on view below, shows that members-only marijuana clubs were embraced by a 66-29 percent margin.
Not nearly as many poll participants liked the idea of pot smoking being allowed at bars and other venues where alcohol is served. This idea got a 65-31 percent thumbs down. Likewise, a 63-33 percent negative response greeted a question about cannabis at ticketed entertainment events. And even marijuana smoking amid invitation-only entertainment events with no admission charge was rejected, albeit in closer fashion: 49-46 percent.
Of course, the accuracy of polls in general is open to question, as we noted in a recent post about two surveys in the John Hickenlooper-Bob Beauprez governor's race (including one from Quinnipiac University) that showed opposite results despite being released 24 hours apart. And in the case of the latest survey, we would have been curious to know if the number of people who didn't want marijuana smoking in bars would have been similar to those who would have said the same thing about tobacco smoking. We suspect the totals in those circumstances have as much if not more to do with the smoke than the marijuana.
Whatever the case, the members-only marijuana club notion is getting a significant push from NORML, whose executive director, Allen St. Pierre, recently argued that the lack of such venues makes no sense in a state where limited cannabis sales have been legalized.
"This is a totally dysfunctional system, and even though some people think establishing places where people can consume encourages more use, I don't think it does," he said. "It just says adults want to use cannabis legally in a social, quasi-public setting."
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Here's the Quinnipiac release and poll.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.