COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Colorado Springs City Council affirmed its 6-to-3 vote Tuesday to ban cannabis clubs within the city. Existing clubs will have to close within eight years.
Cannabis club owners plan to fight the decision. One attorney said Tuesday that a lawsuit would be filed as soon as Mayor John Suthers signs it.
During a meeting that preceded council's first vote two weeks ago, supporters and opponents of the clubs spoke for more than three hours trying to sway council's decision.
Cannabis clubs operate in a gray area of the law. Customers pay a membership fee and the clubs give the customers marijuana. In January, federal agents raided the Lazy Lion cannabis club. Owner Andrew Poarch addressed council and asked them to not ban these clubs.
"My doors are still open. I'm still complaint with the state of Colorado," said Poarch. "I don't understand why there is such push back in Colorado? We aren't doing anything wrong. Marijuana saves thousands and thousands of lives every day."
During public comment, people swore at council members and a few called them dictators. Councilman Keith King called the comments some of the most inappropriate he's seen during his time on council.
"You have no right to call us dictators, we are not dictators," said King.
Opponents of the clubs said they breed illegal activity. Public speakers voiced concerns about clubs being in close proximity to schools and raising neighborhood crime rates. Business owners said allowing these clubs to stay will deter future businesses from considering opening up in the city.
After the decision came down, councilman Don Knight said he was pleased.
"We can't just allow one type of business to do recreational sales and ban everyone else, that's not fair," said Knight.
Speakeasy Cannabis Club owner Jaymen Johnson said he will spend the next eight years fighting to overturn this council's decision.
"I have pretty good odds of repealing it with more sensible people," said Johnson.
He pointed to the outpouring of support from the cannabis community, demonstrated by the number of people who spoke ahead of the vote, and said council made a mistake.
"We were very much able to demonstrate public support and this went unnoticed among council," said Johnson.
Cannabis club supporters said they would start organizing a recall on Wednesday.