Two sides that formerly had little in common are learning more about one another, as a recreational marijuana smoking club hosted an event for some City Council candidates Thursday.
The 7 p.m. event was held at Studio A64, a private club on Colorado Avenue in downtown Colorado Springs. The club is one of several that opened after voters statewide passed Amendment 64 to legalize recreational use of the drug.
The club held a Casino Night for members and candidates. Among those attending the event were candidate Tom Gallagher, a former council member; candidate Dennis Moore; and Karen Teja, campaign manager for Councilwoman Brandy Williams. Williams is seeking a second term in the April 2 election.
Moore said he voted against Amendment 64 but is keeping an open mind about legalized marijuana and businesses like the club that are connected with the drug.
"I see people trying to enjoy themselves," said Moore while standing among a dozen people. "I can smell the aroma. A person in public office is supposed to do the will of the people. It's not about what I feel like. I want to find a way to make it work."
Teja said she found the club to be what she expected.
"The state is waiting to come down with rules and regulations on this particular business," she said. "Brandy wants to be engaged with all parties because it's a business. It brings jobs to the community. We just have to have balance and address all the concerns."
Club owner K.C. Stark said he's been disappointed by what he described as "knee-jerk reactions" from politicians against Amendment 64. He's insistent that he has a right to run his business, but also realizes smoking clubs are new and have to prove themselves.
"We are your neighbors," Stark said. "We want to be responsible, and we've proven with medical that we can be responsible. We can pay taxes. We can do secure things."
Stark said he invited more than a dozen candidates but realized most of them were already attending a town hall meeting on gun control.
The recreational marijuana issue continues to draw national attention, as well. A reporter from the Washington Post attended Thursday night's event.