Mar 29, 2013 11:28 PM by Tony Spehar - email@example.com
Despite slow progress from state leaders in determining how to regulate commercial sales of marijuana after the passage of Amendment 64, several businesses catering to marijuana users have popped up across Colorado Springs.
The grand opening of the Speak Easy Vape Lounge at 2508 East Bijou Street was held on Thursday night. Speak Easy is on of many bring-your-own-pot smoking clubs to open in the city over the past few weeks. Marijuana is not sold on site but the club's private members can bring their own marijuana and smoke it within the club. The club is also partnered with a bar next door to serve food and offer the customers the chance to head-over to the bar to drink and then return to the club.
Jaymen Johnson, one of Speak Easy's owners, said one of the reasons he wanted to start the business after seeing some similar clubs open up after the passage of Amendment 64 and saw that many were run irresponsibly.
"You could tell that there was blatant transactions taking place, stuff like that," Johnson described. "So we really wanted to provide a place with structure because our worry is that a few bad apples will ruin it for the whole bunch."
Following the rules is big for Johnson, unlike some of the other clubs to open in Colorado Springs Speak Easy offers a free ride home within city limits for customers via Party on Wheels buses.
"Taking care of the guests and taking care of people so they won't catch DUIs, that's a big thing here in the Springs," explained Party on Wheels owner Kevin Upshaw.
However, what the future holds as far as rules regulating the sale and use of marijuana is unclear. Over the past week a state audit revealed mismanagement in the regulation of medicinal marijuana operations by the Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division (MMED). The special legislative committee tasked with coming up for recommendations for regulation bogged down over concerns about the audit and extended their deadline for offering rules. Lawmakers have until May to pass regulations for commercial sales, if they don't they'll have to hold a special session to tackle the issue before sales begin in January.
Entrepreneurs in the pot industry, like Jaymen Johnson, said they believe they have operated responsibly and their businesses should be used as models for lawmakers.
"We can self-structure, we can impose our own rules and regulations that make complete sense, that are respectful to the communities we're in and then regulation can match us on that," Johnson said.
Local governments will also be voting on whether to allow sales within their border, El Paso County has already said "no" and Colorado Springs and Pueblo are slated to take up the issue in the future.