Over 4/20 weekend, as we've reported, police officers raided and shut down two Denver pot clubs, Grassroots Colorado, at 2209 Larimer Street, and POTUS Club, 1395 Alameda Avenue (the old Sugar House location).
The approach to doing preventing the businesses from reopening has involved declaring them nuisances and pressuring landlords to evict them.
Ed Couse, CEO and COO of MJ Proper, the company behind POTUS Club, is taking a similar approach. He's filed a motion (on view below) to strike down a temporary restraining order pressed against his business, which he feels city officials are trying to bully out of existence even though he's studiously followed the letter of Colorado law.
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"What appears to be happening is that the City of Denver apparently tells the building owner that if they evict the lessee (me), the city will drop the nuisance claim," Couse writes via Facebook message. "However, in my case, the city has filed a lawsuit claiming the nuisance and has received a temporary restraining order denying access to the building without court approval.
"In essence, the city has stopped all activity on the premises even though there hasn't been a proven violation of law."
Additionally, Couse continues, "the building cannot be sold or encumbered in any way. Again, the building owner doesn't get their lease payments, and this is another way of 'encouraging' the building owner that this type of tenant isn't profitable."
In the meantime, the TRO "stops everyone and forces a hearing on the merits of the nuisance claim," Couse notes. Hence, the aforementioned motion, "which has now set at issue the claims made by the nuisance abatement coordinator and the Denver Police Department drug task force."
Here's an excerpt from the document addressing claims made by the latter agency.
All of The Potus Club, the MJ Proper, Inc. Membership and The POTUS Club Membership (including the undercover Denver police officers who signed up as Members) are over the age of twenty-one (21) and have become POTUS Club Members as required. Within The POTUS Club membership paperwork, Members are required to attest to their intentions with the marijuana and they had to attest that they would not buy and/or sell marijuana as a Member. Thus, although the Denver Police Department undercover officers now allege the "buying and selling" of marijuana by them and other Members of The POTUS Club, simple review of the Membership application and a simple question needs to be asked; were the Denver Police Officers prevaricating, when they swore they wouldn't buy or sell marijuana so they could become Members, or did they prevaricate never intending to become Members in an effort to create a bogus criminal case or a nuisance that did not exist until it was created by them?
According to Couse, he sent city officials a letter in advance of opening "indicating our intentions and the fact we felt we met the 'private club' criteria set out by the Assistant City Attorney." As such, he goes on, "it is very unfortunate that the Denver city officials will not sit down and discuss how their admitted criteria can be met. It seems disingenuous for the city to set out a private club criteria and then never accept the fact that an organization has met their criteria and should be left alone to operate with Amendment 64, as the voters envisioned."
MJ Proper, which is registered as a nonprofit, stirred controversy in 2013 when it was operating as a cannabis delivery service. But Couse maintains that "MJ Proper has always stayed within the law and will continue to do so. Our goals are clearly stated in the articles of incorporation, which were filed with the Colorado Secretary of State" that January: 'The Corporation is organized and shall be to operate exclusively for charitable, scientific and educational purposes.... The specific purposes and objectives of the corporation shall be to enhance, elevate and promote the community awareness, understanding, and support for the safe, responsible growing and consumption of recreational marijuana.'"
Likewise, POTUS Club members "enjoy and encourage the community philanthropy the club has and will continue to produce."
If it can prevail against the City of Denver's assorted shutdown efforts, that is.
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Here's MJ Proper's motion to dismiss the temporary restraining order.Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.