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A look back at the region's cannabis scene in 2016 — so far 

Much like rust, cannabis never sleeps — certainly not in Colorado Springs' tumultuous political scene. While you were packing bongs with snow and figuring out how to smoke without losing your lighter in the white stuff, here's what's been happening with cannabis politics in the region.

After a six-month moratorium that did exactly nothing — the city can't stop issuing a license that doesn't exist, after all — City Council has banned all cannabis clubs in the city. Unpacking that, no new clubs can open, and the city's existing clubs will be subjected to a swath of regulations under a new licensing structure until they are forced to close their doors, no later than 2024. Toward the end of the marathon discussion on the matter, Denver attorney Robert Corry handed City Attorney Wynetta Massey a draft of a lawsuit that he planned to file shortly after Mayor John Suthers signed the three ordinances that made up the ban.

click to enlarge Local cannabis clubs have come together in self-defense. - JOE TREVINO
  • Joe Trevino
  • Local cannabis clubs have come together in self-defense.

In response to the three-pronged legislation, eight of the city's cannabis clubs formed the People's Social Alliance. They plan on filing petitions to repeal the ordinances. It will require three petitions, each with 14,649 valid signatures. If all three are filed by 5 p.m. on April 21 and meet the requirements, the city will have to strike down the ordinances or conduct a special election within 90 days.

The city's marijuana task force has finished its meetings, having produced recommendations for zoning, code enforcement and home grows. The group recommended making commercial grows a permitted use in industrial zones and a conditional use in commercial zones. Further, City Clerk Sarah Johnson will look at splitting licensure for infused-product manufacturers so that companies using hazardous materials to extract THC can be zoned differently from companies that don't. As for home grows, the task force voted to recommend an ordinance placing a 12-plant limit on private residences, a move MMJ advocates say could be unconstitutional.

On the national front, the Supreme Court dismissed the suit Oklahoma and Nebraska filed to strike down Colorado's cannabis laws. Filed in December 2014, the suit claimed that illegal cannabis trafficking across the Colorado border "[places] stress on their criminal justice systems," as well as contradicting federal law. But the suit was tossed out by a 6-2 margin, with only Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissenting.

After Adams County denied permits for High Times magazine's annual Cannabis Cup, organizers tried to move the event to Pueblo County, to the site of the annual Bands in the Backyard festival in Vineland. But in early March, High Times asked Pueblo County to stop processing the event permit application and moved the event to San Bernardino, California.

click to enlarge After a federal raid, the Lazy Lion remains open. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • After a federal raid, the Lazy Lion remains open.

In February, The Lazy Lion was raided by a contingent from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and local law-enforcement agencies. Nobody was arrested and no charges were filed at the time. Club owner Andrew Poarch's attorney, Matthew Buck, says that due to the nature of the investigation, he's unlikely to have an idea of charges until summer. Currently, the Lazy Lion is doing business as normal.

Lastly, Citizens for a Healthy Pueblo has filed a petition to ban all recreational marijuana in Pueblo County. Should organizers obtain valid signatures from 5 percent of county voters, the measure will go on the November ballot.

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