By Phillip Smith
At least two members-only recreational marijuana clubs opened in Colorado Monday, one in Denver and one in the small southern Colorado town of Del Norte, according to the Associated Press. The club openings come less than a month after Gov. John Hickenlooper certified the results of the November vote on Amendment 64, which legalized for adults 21 and over the possession of up to an ounce and the cultivation of up to six pot plants.
Amendment 64 also requires the state government to come up with rules and regulations for a legal marijuana commerce within a matter of months. The clubs get around the regulatory tangle by not actually selling marijuana. Instead, they charge a fee for membership, and paid members can bring their own marijuana and smoke it convivially at the club.
In Denver, Club 64 opened Monday afternoon, less than 24 hours after organizers announced they would create it. It already had 200 members, who had shelled out $29.99 each for the privilege of joining. The club, which will meet monthly at different locations, will charge the same fee each month.
"It's just a place for adults to exercise their constitutional rights together," Denver marijuana attorney Rob Corry told the AP. "We're not selling pot here."
As reggae blasted from speakers below a glittering disco ball and "The Big Lebowski" played on a wall screen, club members shared puffs and hugs as they gathered to celebrate the new year and the new era.
"Look at this!" club organizer Chloe Villano excitedly told the AP. "We were so scared because we didn't want it to be crazy. But this is crazy! People want this."
In Del Norte, the Whitehorse Inn opened Monday afternoon, becoming the first private marijuana club in the state. But according to the Denver Post, publicity surrounding the opening resulting in owner Paul Lovato losing his lease. While Lovato had the keys to the property, his lease didn't actually start until Tuesday, and when the landlord saw the publicity, he canceled the lease before it went into effect.
"By opening early I kind of screwed myself out of my building," Lovato said Tuesday.
He had planned to open at midnight Monday, just after New Year's Eve ticked over to New Year's Day, but moved up his opening by a few hours after hearing about Club 64. Lovato wanted to be first.
"It was really unexpected," he said of the lease cancellation. "I got caught up in the whole, 'I want to be the first to open' thing. And I did that. I was the first. ... I'm pretty proud of that."
If Lovato has lost his location, he hasn't lost his club. He said he was expecting visitors from nearby New Mexico to show up Tuesday.
"We're doing the White Horse Inn at my house today," he said.America now has its first legal marijuana dens.