Washington and Colorado both prohibit consuming marijuana in public. In both states, consuming marijuana in most hotels, clubs, and bars is also generally forbidden due to both public consumption and general smoking laws. And don’t even think about using marijuana at the retail storefronts from which you buy it as doing that could jeopardize the dispensary’s license.
With the large number of out-of-staters coming to Washington and Colorado to consume cannabis, there is clearly a need for safe, comfortable, and — dare we say hip — venues for legal cannabis consumption. A large number of locals would no doubt take advantage of such venues as well.
Colorado is allowing establishments like Club Ned, “the club with altitude” in Nederland, Colorado, where you can Bring Your Own Green and recreate accordingly. According to Forbes, Club Ned took advantage of an exception to the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act for “a place of employment that is not open to the public and that is under the control of an employer that employs three or fewer employees … [Club Ned] will be open only to dues-paying members, who will have to make appointments and bring their own pot. But Club Ned will have tables and sell refreshments, creating something resembling the convivial, tavern-like atmosphere at Dutch ‘coffee shops’ (which are not legal, strictly speaking, but have been tolerated for decades).” Though Club Ned is a small a victory for marijuana tourism in Colorado, it can hold only thirty people at a time and it appears to be the only legally sanctioned club of its kind in the entire state.
Washington has been even tougher than Colorado with recreational cannabis clubs. Almost immediately after the passage of Initiative 502, the Washington State Liquor Control Board disallowed smoking cannabis in liquor-licensed bars. Washington has nothing akin to Club Ned and one bar, Frankie’s, had significant legal problems when it tried to add a “members only” cannabis lounge upstairs from its bar.
For the following reasons, we think places like Club Ned make sense and should be legal:
Cannabis clubs would help to normalize marijuana. Marijuana is now legal and continuing to keep it behind closed doors is hypocritical and only serves to reinforce the idea that it is horrible vice, far worse than alcohol. Cannabis clubs will also encourage the responsible use of marijuana as most people generally behave fairly well in public. Clubs also will likely help control usage because most clubs will want to stop its patrons from driving when too high to do so, just like bars have the same incentive for their customers. These clubs will also boost tourism.
Oregon and Alaska are promoting their legalization votes with campaigns calling for cannabis to be treated like alcohol and the trending view nationwide is for roughly equivalent treatment. Allowing cannabis bars only makes sense.