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Stark pulls out of A64, will help other states 

CannaBiz

click to enlarge KC Stark, riding off into the sunset. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • KC Stark, riding off into the sunset.

Buffalo soldiers on

Not two weeks after Studio A64 was named the best cannabis club in Colorado Springs by Indy readers, founder KC Stark has sold his share in the operation.

"The cannabis club really was an experiment to see if we could create the impossible in the heart of Colorado Springs," he says. "I built that thing like a battleship, and it's time to turn her into a luxury cruise liner." To that end, he is stepping down to make space for new leadership in the form of Ambur Rose. She's a Springs native who recently concluded 19 years in the restaurant business by ending a year-long stint as a server at The Warehouse.

"I have always been an entrepreneur, seeking opportunities and trying new things," Rose says. "I was in real estate, life insurance and tried several 'pyramid' businesses, [none of] which kept my attention for very long." Rose is also a zumba fitness instructor and former owner of The Fitness Factory. But she says that restaurants were always a comfortable gig for her.

When I first met Rose, she had already started spearheading Studio A64's transition from smoothies to mocktails, whipping up a virgin blackberry mojito she soon dubbed "Purple Haze." That's just the beginning of Rose's drive for a new and vibrant Studio. She plans on expanding the drink selections, including CBD-infused beverages. Rose also will oversee introduction of a broad food selection from cakes to pies to ice cream sundaes — "just things that we don't have to prepare in a commercial-type kitchen."

With her fitness background, Rose has an ear for health and wellness concerns and considerations. To that end, Studio A64 will be adding a lot more educational material, including seminars on the spectrum of benefits and opportunities marijuana can provide. She's also planning to expand the merch selection, though details are still in the works.

"I have already removed a lot of things, changed a lot of things around, taken things out and given it a very, very thorough deep cleaning," Rose says.

She joins current owners Capt. Abner "Voodoo" Marrero and Janine Lee Choung, who have operated the Studio with Stark for the past two years. On top of everything else, the Studio is also expanding its hours, opening from 10 a.m. until midnight Tuesday through Saturday.

As for Stark, he's hitting the road to bring the word of weed to states that have yet to legalize.

"I'm going to take what we learned in Colorado and try to help the other states with legalization," he says. In the next three months, he says he's due in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. He'll carry with him the same spirit that anchored marijuana in downtown Colorado Springs. As he said back in 2013, "I'm not here to beg for your acceptance — I demand it."

Same to you, buddy

The Federal Reserve has adopted a more hard-line stance against allowing marijuana money into the banking system. Earlier this year, cannabis-focused Fourth Corner Credit Union was denied a master account by the Kansas City branch of the Federal Reserve (see CannaBiz, Aug. 5). A master account, according to federalreserve.gov, "is both a record of financial transactions that reflects the financial rights and obligations of an account holder and of the Reserve Bank with respect to each other, and the place where opening and closing balances are determined." All banks need a master account at the nearest Fed branch; without one, Fourth Corner can't open and the marijuana industry stays largely cash-only.

In response, Fourth Corner sued the Fed, and according to a Denver Post report Oct. 22, the Fed has filed a motion asking the U.S. District Court in Denver to throw out the suit. The motion rests on the fact that marijuana is still federally illegal.

To quote the text directly, "The court would not entertain other such attempts — such as if Colorado enacted a scheme to allow trade in endangered species or trade with North Korea in derogation of federal laws, and then chartered a credit union to handle the finances for companies conducting such illegal trade."

Should Fourth Corner's suit succeed, this would be a major step toward marijuana businesses being able to operate like any other kind of business.

A show of inertia

City Council certainly has a sense of dramatic tension with its medical marijuana moratorium ordinance. To recap, the Council is considering a six-month stop to all new land-use permits for medical marijuana businesses, from cultivation facilities to dispensaries to the businesses that make edibles and infusions.

But it will be another two weeks before the Council makes any decision on the matter, after passing an amendment to the ordinance that will allow any existing business to expand, mandate a task force and allow for "hardship exemptions." As a result, the reading on Oct. 27 was a first reading, and the Council will have to read it again before voting at its next meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 10.

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