Fruita approves measure to ban private pot clubs

You will not be seeing one of those trendy, bring-your-own-cannabis clubs sprouting up in Fruita anytime soon, after the City Council voted Tuesday evening to impose an immediate but temporary moratorium on private pot clubs.

A constitutional amendment passed by Colorado voters in November all but legalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana, and a task force called by the governor is working through many of the legislative and regulatory issues still to be resolved in the cloudy wake of Amendment 64’s passage.

Some clever club owners in Denver and elsewhere have exploited the legal gray area in Colorado law. A number of private “cannabis clubs” have sprung up—where people pay a cover charge, bring their own marijuana, and light up quite publicly.

That’s the type of club Fruita is hoping to head off with the passage of the emergency ordinance Tuesday, which was unanimously approved after council members narrowed the focus of the proposed ordinance to protect private property rights.

The city technically declared an “emergency”—an obvious stretch of the definition so the ordinance could be enforced immediately.

The temporary moratorium banning marijuana use in commercially zoned properties is good for 61 days, but the council is expected to formalize a more lasting ordinance at their meeting scheduled for Feb. 19.

Amendment 64 allows for municipalities to ban retail sales of marijuana in their community. Ballot measures asking citizens about a ban, though, cannot happen until November 2014, according to the amendment.

Fruita voters decided to ban medical marijuana dispensaries in an April 2012 ballot measure, by a significant margin.

“Even though the voters spoke statewide (in passing Amendment 64), the Fruita voters also spoke very loud and clear,” said council member Stacey Mascarenas, about the recent ballot measure.


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