While the City of Denver has made it clear that marijuana-use lounges and clubs aren’t going to be tolerated, our neighbors to the south in Colorado Springs have welcomed pot clubs. Even members of the Colorado Springs City Council have generally been supportive, allowing several establishments to be licensed and arguing in their favor when zoning or use issues have arisen.
That could be because last year, after Studio 64 found itself targeted by undercover police stings and complaints from city officials, the club took its case to city council and won a 5-3 decision to remain open after council members decided that it did not violate any city rules and fit within the city’s definition of a “civic organization.”
Since then, Studio 64 and the handful of other lounges in the Springs have operated without much hassle. Proponents of the clubs say they provide a safe place in the community for cannabis users to gather and consume. Few complaints have arisen from the public, and in general, the lounges have made for good neighbors.
Unless you work at the Farmer’s Insurance branch located next door to the 420 Speakeasy Lounge, that is. Owners and employees of the Farmer’s branch in northeast Colorado Springs say their office constantly smells like raw weed and pot smoke and gripe that loud music frequently disturbs their work. They’ve been in their location for twenty years with no issues, they say, and now the skunky odors are enough to push them to move.
"Everybody knows we’re here, but I can’t stay. I absolutely can’t stay the way things are," Liz Hanson, an agent with Farmers, told KRDO/Channel 13 this week. "Any customer that's been in here in the last three or four weeks walks in and says, 'Wow, it smells like pot in here."
Hanson told the station that she’s “anxious” to get out of her current location and into a new spot that isn’t attached to a pot club.
For their part, the owners of the 420 Speakeasy say they haven’t received a single complaint from their neighbors about the odors, noting that the shop has several charcoal filters running at all times. And while 420 Speakeasy owner Travis Perkins notes that the club has live-music events and art shows, those mostly occur in the evenings after other businesses in the shopping center have closed for the day.
But according to Hanson, that’s precisely the problem: Smoke from overnight parties lingers and causes the whole center to reek in the morning.
And so Farmer’s is moving — and the space it formerly occupied will get a lot more smoky in the coming months. Perkins says that the club has bought the space and plans to expand, creating a dance floor and adding more seating.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.