Pot and politics mix at Studio A64, a bring-your-own-marijuana smoking club open in downtown Colorado Springs.
Owner KC Stark opened Studio A64 three-weeks ago, the club is members only and no marijuana sales are allowed on the premises. The club only sells drinks and snacks, members can smoke their own pot from vaporizers inside or through traditional means on the outside deck.
"According to our research we are the first private, licensed, insured, brick-and-mortar cannabis club in America," Stark said.
Stark said he is often worried the club may be shut-down by authorities, but so far that hasn't happened and leaders with the Colorado Springs Police Department say for now the club is legal.
"Until we get some direction from the state we're not really going to really enforce anything other than we can," explained Deputy Chief Vincent Niski.
So Studio A64 has a "green-light" of sorts and said he will continue to operate responsibly. Security is tight at the club and Stark is strict about public health, keeping pipes and mouth-pieces thoroughly cleaned after use. He claimed his club could be an example of how marijuana business could benefit the city.
"Regulate it, tax it, control it, acknowledge it, accept it," he said.
Studio A64 has become a headquarters of sort for a new force in city politics, the marijuana industry.
"We hope that we can leverage enough to create a voice and to show that our issue is important to the region," explained Mark Slaugh of iComply, a marijuana regulatory affairs company.
Slaugh, Stark and other marijuana business owners are trying to influence voters to pressure city leaders to allow the cannabis industry to grow. They've even put together a voting guide called "Cannabis Candidates" which endorses candidates for city council who are friendly to the marijuana industry, just like many other business sectors do to try and get supportive leaders elected.
"We have a new city council coming on board who will decide the responsible way to move forward with regulating this industry or banning it completely," Slaugh explained.
In the coming weeks before the city council election Studio A64 will be hosting fund raising events for their campaign.