As the city and state debate the future of marijuana social clubs, one that's been operating in Colorado Springs for years and is billed as "the original cannabis club" will hold a grand re-opening Saturday with the help of the Downtown Partnership.
"Slowly but surely people are going to start respecting these businesses just as any business could be respected," said Ambur Racek, the new co-owner of Studio A64 on the corner of Colorado and Wahsatch avenues.
She said it's a wonderful sign that the Downtown Partnership is on board with celebrating the new ownership and new look and feel of the club.
Marijuana social clubs are operating in a legal limbo in Colorado. State law prohibits public consumption of marijuana and also strictly regulates the companies that are producing and selling pot and pot-infused products in retail shops.
Private establishments, however, have opened across the state where people pay membership dues and can then either consume their own marijuana in the club or can acquire a small amount of pot there as part of a reimbursement program.
Racek said her attorneys say they are operating within the scope of Colorado law.
Colorado Springs City Council members put a moratorium on any new marijuana social clubs opening in the city. The City Council has decided also to not allow retail marijuana shops inside city limits. And sources say city council members are looking at creating an ordinance regulating or limiting the clubs.
Additionally lawmakers at the Colorado General Assembly are considering legislation this year that would regulate marijuana clubs.
Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont, said Thursday that the bill is still in the works. It could ban the sale of marijuana at such establishments, shutting down the reimbursement programs that allow the clubs to provide marijuana on site. But he said a second bill would allow for retail marijuana stores to have tasting rooms for their products.
Laurel Prudhomme, communications director for the Downtown Partnership, said that just like a bar as long as a business is legal and follows state laws they will support them as a part of the urban core.
"We know that diverse businesses bring diverse people to downtown and we are absolutely inclusive of businesses that are adding to the unique qualities of what downtown has to offer," Prudhomme said. "It is legal and it is a well regulated business."
Racek said she has worked in real estate and insurance and owned a dance studio for several years.
"I got into this business because I just want to be part of the revolution of it," she said. "I think that people have a pretty false conception of what's going on in clubs like this and with people who smoke marijuana in general."
Her business partner Wanda Stark has never used marijuana, but watched the drug help her husband through his final days of life with cancer. That experience helped her gain appreciation for marijuana and she agreed to buy the club with Racek.
Contact Megan Schrader