Since opening the first licensed private brick-and-mortar cannabis club in Colorado, owner KC Stark has battled against the City of Colorado Springs for his and Studio A64’s members’ rights to gather and toke up legally at their downtown location.
Last week, the Colorado Springs City Council appealed the Planning Commission’s decision to grant Stark his appeal that permitted members to smoke marijuana inside the club located at 332 East Colorado Ave on the second floor.
“At this point, I’m stuck in the middle,” said Stark. “First we were rejected by the Planning Commission, who then changed their mind and approved of the club. Now, the city thinks the Planning Commission is wrong.”
The club, which has operated since February 2013, was issued a citation on November 21 of last year stating that smoking pot in the club was not allowed under the city’s zoning regulations. Neither the City Zoning Code nor the Downtown Colorado Springs Form-Based Zoning Code defines the regulations by which a marijuana smoking facility must adhere.
Stark issued an appeal 11 days later to the City’s Planning Commission that challenged the citation’s viability.
“Just because a use is not expressly mentioned in a zoning code does not make it ‘illegal.’ It may be a non-conforming use, but it is not illegal,” read the appeal. “If the City Council desires to make the use illegal, it would have to pass an ordinance, amending the Zoning Code, specifically making it illegal.”
The Planning Commission approved of the appeal on Feb. 21 by a vote of 7-2, but Stark and Studio A64 members could not celebrate for too long before the City Council appealed the Planning Commission’s approval.
According to the Gazette, the Council’s notice of the appeal stated that “the Planning Commission’s decision to compare Studio A64 to a social club was incorrect, and such clubs are not allowed on the second floor under city zoning regulations.”
“My main argument now for my club’s right to exist downtown is that the Planning Commission said we could be there. That’s their job,” said Stark.
Members of Studio A64, who must agree to the club’s terms and conditions upon accepting membership, have access to a vaporizer lounge, special events nights including Casino Night, Open Mic Night, and International Dance Night, and a cannabis gift shop selling everything marijuana from vaporizers and hand-blown pipes, to t-shirts and posters.
“People bring their own pot, as the law allows, and talk with people that share similar interests,” said Stark.
According to Stark, members include politicians, musicians, Harvard graduates, Sierra Club members, artists, multi-millionaires, and homeless people.
A rally set up by members of Studio A64 will be held on April 8 to gain support for the club.
“The people of Colorado liberated cannabis. They have taken it out of the realm of the criminal and into the realm of the social,” said Stark. “They just need a place to go. If you don’t like that we have cannabis for moral reasons, what about the strippers? What about the bars? We are all equal. It’s part of the constitution”