Defining ‘public’

Raid on Denver Pot Club Illustrates Continued Intolerance of Marijuana Consumption Outside the Home

Last week Denver police raided and shut down Maryjane’s Social Club, one of the few places in Colorado, aside from private residences, where people could legally smoke pot. Or so it seemed. Maryjane’s did not advertise and was open only to paying members, but in the eyes of Denver officials that was not sufficiently private. [...]

But to qualify as a private club, Douglas says, an organization would have to satisfy the “balancing test” set forth by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit in U.S. v. Lansdowne Swim Club, a 1990 discrimination case. That test includes factors such as the club’s selectivity, its history and mission, the formalities it observes, whether it advertises for members, whether its facilities are used by nonmembers, the control that members have over the club’s operations, and whether the club generates profits for the people who run it.

That’s just utter hogwash.

He’s taking the definition of a private club in a completely different context and trying to apply it to anything that’s “not public.”

The law doesn’t say that marijuana has to be smoked in a private club. Rather is says that it’s an offense to consume marijuana “openly and publicly.”

From any fair reading of the intent of the law, that’s clearly a prohibition against smoking it around others who would be surprised or bothered by it. In other words, out on the street, or lighting up in a regular restaurant, etc.

You don’t need to charge a membership fee, and you certainly don’t have to be a private club as defined in U.S. vs. Lansdowne Swim Club.

Really all you should need is a sign that says, “Beyond this point, people may be smoking cannabis. If that bothers you, don’t go there.”

Now, fortunately in other areas of the state, private clubs are not running into trouble. But they shouldn’t have to worry at all (other than meeting normal regulatory requirements of establishments). Legalization of marijuana does not mean that users are to hide in their homes in shame.

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