Colorado gets members-only clubs for legal pot use

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In this May 23, 1966, file photo, people roll joints at a marijuana party near the University of California at Berkeley campus in Berkeley, Calif. In 2012, Washington state and Colorado voted to legalize and regulate its recreational use. But before that, the plant, renowned since ancient times for its strong fibers, medical use and mind-altering properties, was a staple crop of the colonies, an “assassin of youth,” a counterculture emblem and a widely accepted – if often abused – medicine. On the occasion of “Legalization Day,” Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012, when Washington’s new law takes effect, AP takes a look back at the cultural and legal status of the “evil weed” in American history. AP FILE PHOTO

DENVER—With reggae music pumping and disco lights flashing, members of a Colorado recreational pot club lit up in celebration of the new year — and a new place to smoke legally.

Club 24 in Denver was one of two Colorado clubs that were believed to be the first legal pot dens in the nation. It opened at 4:20 p.m. Monday, with some 200 people paying $29.99 to join the bring-your-own pot club.

“Look at this!” Chloe Villano exclaimed as the club she created opened. “We were so scared because we didn’t want it to be crazy. But this is crazy! People want this.”

The private pot dens popped up less than a month after Colorado’s governor signed into law a constitutional amendment allowing recreational pot use. Club 64 gets its name from the number of the amendment.

The Denver Post reported that a similar pot club also opened Monday in the small southern Colorado town of Del Norte.

Colorado’s marijuana amendment prohibits public consumption, and smoke-free laws also appear to ban much indoor smoking. But Club 64 attorney Robert Corry said private pot dens are permissible because marijuana isn’t sold.

Villano, the club owner, said the pot club would meet monthly at different locations, with the $29.99 membership fee good for only one event. On Monday, the pot club was meeting in a hemp-based clothing store near downtown.

A bar decorated with blue Christmas lights handed out sodas and Club 64’s official snacks — Goldfish and Cheetos. The snacks were inspired by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who warned marijuana users the night of the marijuana vote, “don’t break out the Cheetos or Goldfish too quickly.”

Corry said the pot clubs are intended for people who can’t use marijuana at home because of local ordinance or because their landlords threaten eviction.

“It’s just a place for adults to exercise their constitutional rights together,” Corry said. “We’re not selling pot here.”

Among the new Club 64 members was Joe Valenciano of Denver, who signed up immediately.

“We need more clubs like this,” Valenciano said.

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