Colorado Senate passes marijuana membership clubs bill on to House, but Hickenlooper has concerns

DENVER – A bill that would authorize towns, cities and counties to allow private marijuana clubs in their jurisdiction is headed to the Colorado House after passing a full Senate vote Thursday morning.

Senate Bill 184 passed its third reading and a full Senate vote, 25-10.

The bill has undergone several changes in Senate committees and on the floor.

As it sits now, the bill would allow jurisdictions that have authorized private marijuana clubs, as Denver did in November, to operate them under a series of strict parameters:

  • The members and employees of the cub must all be at least 21 years old.
  • The club’s owner must have been a Colorado resident for at least two years before owning the club.
  • The club’s employees must all be Colorado residents.
  • The club won’t be able to sell or serve alcohol or food.
  • The club can’t sell marijuana, nor can it allow others to sell or “exchange…for remuneration” marijuana on the club’s premises.
  • Marijuana could not be consumed “openly” or “publicly.”

The bill would also require that the clubs be private and not accessible to the general public. Both medical and recreational could be used within the club.

The bill’s Senate sponsor, Sen. Bob Gardner, R-El Paso County, told Denver7 last week that the way marijuana clubs were currently operating amounted to the "Wild West."

The 10 votes against the bill Thursday morning all came from Republicans, but the bill passed with several Republicans in favor.

The bill also has favorable chances in the Democrat-controlled House, though it has already undergone several changes since it was first introduced and could undergo more.

But should it pass the House, the bill could still face defeat at the governor’s desk.

Gov. John Hickenlooper told Denver7 he would review the bill should it reach his desk, and questioned whether such measures should be implemented amid many unknowns regarding marijuana programs and how they will be treated under the new administration and attorney general.

He also voiced concerns Wednesday to the Denver Post that allowing people to smoke marijuana indoors would allow a “crack in the door” to the law banning smoking indoors.

His concern over possible federal changes also applies to Senate Bill 192, which would allow marijuana deliveries in Colorado.

Senate Bill 184’s first House hearing has yet to be scheduled.

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