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'Pot Bars' Test Limits of Colo., Wash. Marijuana Laws

By Andrew Lu on March 26, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

With the legalization of recreational marijuana use in Colorado and Washington, entrepreneurs are now testing the limits of these laws by opening up "pot bars" and private clubs.

Last fall, voters in the two states legalized marijuana use for adults over the age of 21. However, the use of pot must be in private. You can't just walk around a public park or other public area smoking a joint.

To provide a place for pot smokers to hang out, a variety of businesses have cropped up in these two states, including pot bars, cafes, and clubs, reports The Associated Press.

Given the novelty of the laws, business owners say that there are no rules yet to bar them from opening and running a pot bar, writes the AP. Some entrepreneurs hope that by being thoughtful and considerate with their business, they can avoid getting into trouble.

Some of their tactics include:

  • Opening a private smoking room for members only. Less than a mile away from where Washington state lawmakers are drafting rules that will apply to the pot industry, Frankie's Sports Bar and Grill in Olympia has opened up a private smoking room for its members, according to the AP. Members are allowed to smoke tobacco or marijuana.

  • Charging membership fees to smoke. In Denver, a group called "Club 64" (named after Amendment 64, which legalized recreational pot in Colorado) allows members who pay $40 a year to smoke pot in a social setting. Members receive emails telling them where the club meets; there is no stationary bar or club where patrons can go every day.

  • BYOP (Bring Your Own Pot). The Front Tea & Art Shop in Colorado had advertised "cannabis-friendly" nights when customers could bring their own pot. While this may have appeared to evade restrictions regarding businesses selling pot, local authorities have recently enacted a moratorium on pot use at all businesses, effectively shutting down these "BYOP" nights, the AP reports.

  • Vaporize. To avoid the state's indoor smoking ban, some clubs allow members to vaporize their pot. This involves heating the marijuana without burning it.

Anytime there is a new law like the ones allowing recreational use of marijuana, businesses will try to capitalize. While many have tried to stay one step ahead of lawmakers, new regulations governing pot sales and marijuana use at establishments are expected to be introduced soon.

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