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County eyes permanent ban on pot social clubs

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Cooperative growing operations also likely to be prohibited

By Ramsey Scott

Jeffco is working to make permanent a moratorium on marijuana social clubs and cooperative growing operations in the county’s unincorporated areas.

The current moratorium, which ends in May, prohibits clubs and establishments where members can consume or exchange marijuana or grow and manufacture marijuana cooperatively. 

The proposed permanent ban would also limit to 12 the number of marijuana plants in one home, regardless of the number of residents in the dwelling. Amendment 64 allows people age 21 and older to grow six plants at a time. 

While retail sales and growing operations have been addressed by state laws, ambiguity exists when it comes to the legality of social clubs. Several municipalities in the area, including Denver, have rules against the clubs, said Mike Chadwick, zoning administrator for Jeffco. 

Chadwick said the county has consulted with Denver in devising its own rules. 

“Working with Denver, they don’t specifically address (the issue of clubs), but we wanted to go one step further and make sure it was addressed,” Chadwick said. 

Jeffco is also considering language to ban marijuana festivals or events. County Commissioner Don Rosier said during a recent staff briefing on the new rules that the county has already received a request for an outdoor festival in Evergreen that would feature marijuana. 

“They would have tents and private areas where they could smoke marijuana. They felt it was perfectly aboveboard and pursuant to Amendment 64. However, there are some that would disagree with that,” Rosier said. “We better be very clear on whether it’s allowed or not and how me move forward. Otherwise, it’s bad for the organizers, it’s bad for the community if you don’t know what’s allowed.” 

 

Clubbing in Colorado Springs

A lack of specific language banning marijuana social clubs came back to haunt Colorado Springs earlier this year. While the town banned retail marijuana sales, four marijuana social clubs are operating within city limits. 

Recently, Colorado Springs’ planning board sided against the city’s efforts to shut down one of the clubs, Studio A64, said Steve Tuck, a city planner. 

Tuck said the head of the city’s zoning department planned to appeal the decision to the City Council, which normally isn’t done, and the department is drafting new rules that would ban the clubs outright. 

Chadwick said Jeffco’s proposed rules could change after being adopted, depending on the work of the county’s new marijuana task force. The task force, which is still being formed, will report to the Board of County Commissioners later this year with recommendations on retail sales and growing operations.  

The rules banning clubs and cooperative growing are set to go before the county’s Planning Board on March 26. The county’s current moratorium on retail sales is set to expire in February 2015.

 

Contact Ramsey Scott at ramsey@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22, and follow him on Twitter @RamseyColumbine. Check back at www.columbinecourier.com for updates.