Colorado lawmakers abandon plans to regulate cannabis clubs

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Colorado lawmakers backed off plans to regulate marijuana clubs, saying the state would invite a federal crackdown by approving Amsterdam-style cannabis clubs.

The state House voted Thursday to amend a bill that would have set rules for how private marijuana clubs could work.

It was a dramatic reversal. Bring-your-own-MJ clubs had bipartisan support in the Colorado Legislature, and the measure had cleared the GOP Senate.

But lawmakers bowed to Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, who warned he would veto a club measure if it allowed indoor marijuana smoking. The governor also warned that clubs, and a separate proposal to allow cannabis delivery, might invite intervention from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Sponsors of the club bill said they had little choice but to back off, leaving Colorado with its current spotty club landscape.

The state has about 30 private marijuana clubs, according to legislative analysts, but they operate under a patchwork of local regulations and are sometimes raided by law enforcement.

The House amendment passed Thursday effectively removes club regulations, and the remaining bits of the bill are relatively minor. The bill could face yet more changes before a final vote.

The bill would have made Colorado the first state to regulate clubs statewide.

Ballot measures approved by voters last year in Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada would allow either on-site marijuana consumption or so-called “social use” clubs, but regulations for how those clubs would work haven’t been settled. Alaska regulators are considering a measure to allow on-site cannabis consumption.

– Associated Press