Last Friday, June 27th, Denver police raided Maryjane Social Club, which resulted in three citations and one person having their dab rig confiscated for evidence. The story is still being fleshed out with Maryjane Social Club, and it is possible that there may have been a violation in terms of checking IDs, but the overall incident puts forth a major question: where can cannabis consumers consume safely and “legally?” It depends on where they live, and if they live in Denver, they are not welcome, as Friday night’s event showed.
Apparently, the only place that cannabis consumers can partake is in their homes, or in the few lucky areas in the state where local officials are much more respectful of the will of majority. Pueblo, CO is permitting cannabis clubs, and iBake Denver, technically in unincorporated Adams County, has been able to operate free of hassle. At places like iBake Denver, people sign up as members for the freedom to use marijuana in a social setting with other people with similar interests, not hiding in a home like some kind of freak, which is apparently what Denver is pushing for.
What would be best for Colorado and Denver are marijuana cafes, but with the current leadership in the Denver City Council, it will be an uphill if not impossible battle. Social clubs, which require membership fees and members disclosing personal information, are a good stop gap measure, but are not the best sustainable model for robust economic growth. Allowing for cafes, which would be similar to alcohol bars, would create a new revenue stream, create new jobs, new education and certification opportunities for marijuana trade schools, and new licensing opportunities to generate money for the city and state.
However, with the lack of support from the state’s capital city, it is urgent that Denver be called out on anti-marijuana actions when 66% of voters in Denver alone voted for Amendment 64. Voters need to show their disapproval during Denver’s mayoral and city council election in May 2015. Mayor Hancock is up for re-election and he has been very anti-marijuana, which is very concerning considering the 66% of voters who voted for marijuana legalization
Some of the city council members are so against marijuana that last year they proposed a draconian ordinance violating voters’ will that would have made it illegal for someone to smoke inside their home or on their porch if someone walking on the public sidewalk could see the consumption taking place. They would have literally violated property rights had there not been so much passionate testimony in their persecution of marijuana that helped amend the ordinance. To remind cannabis consumers, here are the councilmembers who voted in favor of violating property rights: Jeanne Robb, Judy Montero, Jeanne Faatz, Debbie Ortega, Chris Herndon, Peggy Lehmann and Albus Brooks. Well, the time has come for some of them, along with Mayor Hancock, to answer for their deeds.
A few of the Councilmembers are facing term limits, some of them marijuana legalization opponents, so it is critical to fill their seats with candidates that support marijuana. Charlie Brown in district 6, who has been the most active councilmember in opposition to marijuana laws, term limits in 2015. It is critical that his seat get filled by a candidate who supports marijuana. Other councilmembers term limiting are Jeanne Fatz from district 2, Peggy Lehmann from district 4, Judy Montero from district 9, Jeanne Robb from district 10, and Chris Nevitt from district 7, who is not term limited and is running for city auditor. All of the councilmembers mentioned except for Nevitt do not view marijuana favorable and once out, it will be critical to fill their seats with marijuana friendly candidates.
The Cannabis Consumers Union provides its members and the general public with information on how political candidates stand on cannabis issues. So far there are two candidates that have shown solid support for the new marijuana industry. Susan Shepherd is running for reelection in district 1 in 2015 and has been one of the most vocal supporters of marijuana in Denver. Jose Silva who will be running as an at-large candidate has a long history in the cannabis movement and will probably win the vote just for that reason.
It will be refreshing to have candidates who will see the value of upholding voters while also doing proactive things for the new industry, such as economic development projects and of course, fighting for the right to consume marijuana in safe places. Cannabis consumers have a right to be able to consume in safe places while socializing, and it should be similar to cafes that people can walk into at will and pay as they use. Denver voters can help by writing current and future councilmembers and the mayor’s office to voice their concerns, and to perhaps politely remind them that this is a defining issue for a positive vote.
Stay tuned for more information on candidates as it becomes available.