American Cancer Society rallies against Colorado pot club bill

DENVER -- The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network rallied outside the State Capitol on Monday against a measure that some say would increase the number of marijuana social clubs in Colorado.

"We believe supporters of this bill are mistaken," said R.J. Ours, ACS CAN Colorado government director. "Secondhand marijuana smoke and secondhand tobacco smoke have likely similar harmful health effects."

The main concern for the group is the allowance of pot social clubs with indoor smoking to be set up in a city or county if their local government approves.

"What we are trying to do is the will of the voters," State Rep. Dan Pabon said.

Pabon said local governments already have the ability to create pot social clubs, but his bill clarifies how they are to be set up.

"This gives direction to those who are interested in opening up social clubs or consumption clubs of what this has to look like," Pabon said.

The bill would allow indoor smoking if the establishment has fewer than three employees. That would keep it in compliance with the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act.

Pabon said clubs would also require membership fees or cover fees to enter because they are to be private in nature.

The measure, which was laid over Monday and will be debated on the floor later in the week, is expected to pass the House, according to sources. The measure has already passed the State Senate.

The big question mark is will Gov. John Hickenlooper approve it? In a March news conference, Hickenlooper hinted he might veto the bill.

"I am the first person to say we shouldn't have smoking in public clubs," Hickenlooper said.

The measure does not impact the actions of the city of Denver, which is working to set up more marijuana consumption laws after a city ballot measure passed in November.