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Local businesses respond to task force moves

Marijuana smoke shop owners fear being shut down

Task Force Ideas Worry Some Local Businesses

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Some legal marijuana-related businesses in Colorado Springs could be affected if recent recommendations from the governor's task force become law.

One of the 14 suggestions released by the task force Thursday was to consider whether private marijuana "smoke shops" or "cannabis clubs" should be included in the existing smoking ban at restaurants and other public places.  Such an inclusion could force those clubs to close.

Colorado Springs has three of the clubs.  The newest, Studio A64, opened a week ago near the intersection of Colorado and Wahsatch avenues. Owner K.C. Stark named it after last fall's amendment approved by voters to make possession and use of up to an ounce of marijuana legal for recreational purposes.

Stark said clubs should be exempt from the smoking ban because smoking isn't visible by the general public and isn't done in a place that's accessible to the public.

"We have curtains to cover the windows," he said.  "We have paid memberships.  You have to bring your marijuana; we don't sell it.  We don't sell alcohol.  We sell coffee and water.  We have live musicians and poets."

Mark Slaugh of iComply, a legalized marijuana advocate, said he's disappointed at some efforts by lawmakers to control what was approved by a public vote.

"We really are starting to skirt the lines, in what a business owner is able to do," he said."

Stark said he'll trust lawmakers to make the right decisions about which recommendations should become law, but he also promised a court battle to anyone who tries to close his business.

"It really is like Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson who sat around 237 years ago and said we're not going to take it," he said.  "We have rights.  We the people have spoken, but now it's up to (lawmakers) to decide what that really means."

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