Monday, April 4, 2016

Cannabis clubs mobilize in self-defense

Posted By on Mon, Apr 4, 2016 at 1:49 PM

click to enlarge COURTESY OF JOE TREVINO
  • Courtesy of Joe Trevino
Springs residents who voted for Amendment 64 were understandably disappointed to watch City Council opt out a year later. That disappointment morphed into indignation as city officials repeatedly and methodically tightened marijuana regulations right up to the brink of what’s allowable under state constitutional amendments. Now, that indignation has manifest into political activism aimed at aligning city policy more closely with what citizens want.

“I’ll be honest, a month ago if you had asked me who the mayor was, I didn’t know,” says Anthony Robinson, aka Zip Floppyjoints, owner of the My Club 420 cannabis club. “But I’ve woken up.”

Robinson and his club are part of a coalition of eight cannabis clubs across the city. They want a referendum on council’s recent decision to ban such clubs.

That vote came down on March 23, when City Council voted to prohibit the opening of any new cannabis clubs, mandate licensure for all clubs that operated prior to the moratorium (subject to all sorts of new rules) and force those clubs to close doors no later than 2024. Before those ordinances officially passed, strategies for undoing them had already begun forming. Now, two are in action.

One is a lawsuit filed in district court by Denver-based attorney Robert Corry, on behalf of nine establishments and 14 individuals. The complaint asks for the ordinance to be struck down for violating the plaintiffs’ right of association, freedom of speech and due process under the U.S. Constitution, as well as their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, religious freedom and the right to medical and personal use of marijuana under the Colorado Constitution.

The other mounting challenge is a petition filed with the city clerk’s office this week by the People’s Social Alliance (PSA), consisting of My Club 420, The Dab Lounge, One Love Club, Canna Canyon, The Lazy Lion, Springs Dreams, The Pothole and Studio A64.

City Clerk Sarah Johnson says that per guidelines established by the City Charter, the group will have to gather 14,649 valid signatures to force a referendum that basically asks councilors to consider repealing the ban they already passed. If council declines, though, voters will get the opportunity to repeal the ban in a special election within 90 days.

The PSA will focus on canvassing the pockets of the city that voted most heavily in favor of Amendment 64, according to Robinson. “We’re expecting 200 volunteers by the end of the week,” he told the Independent. “And most of them are vets. We’re going to be everywhere. We’re going to get it done.”

To be clear, the so-called "ban" on cannabis clubs really consists of three ordinances: one that prohibits the establishment of new clubs and requires existing clubs to shut down within eight years; one that creates a marijuana consumption club license those grandfathered clubs need to get; and one that establishes a fee structure for the new license. In other words, the PSA has to turn in three separate petitions with 14,649 valid signatures each to force a referendum on the whole she-bang.

The deadline is 5 p.m., April 21, and the ordinances won’t take effect until a resolution is reached.

City Clerk Johnson further explained that an unscheduled special election isn’t in this year’s budget. “It would cost around $300,000, and we don’t have that in the election account,” she told the Independent. “The city would have to come up with it somehow.”

Robinson sees this petition process as the first step toward getting the local government to reflect the will of the people.

“The fact is, this is how the Republican party started, this is how the Democratic party started,” Robinson mused. “Political movements start in bars, and we’re getting pretty galvanized in here.”

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