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Members-only marijuana clubs open in Colorado

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By KRISTEN WYATT
Associated Press

DENVER (AP) - Recreational marijuana clubs opened Monday in Colorado, less than a month after the state governor signed into law a constitutional amendment allowing recreational pot use.

With a reggae soundtrack and flashing disco-style lights, Club 64 in an industrial area just north of downtown Denver opened Monday afternoon, with some 200 people signed up. The opening came less than 24 hours after club organizers announced they would charge a $29.99 admission price for the bring-your-own pot club.

Two Colorado clubs were believed to be the first legal pot dens in the nation.

New Club 64 members were firing up bongs and exchanging hugs before the sun set Monday, and they also planned to ring in the new year together.

"Look at this!" an excited Chloe Villano exclaimed as the club she created over the weekend opened. "We were so scared because we didn't want it to be crazy. But this is crazy! People want this."

Colorado's marijuana amendment prohibits public consumption, and smoke-free laws also appear to ban indoor smokeouts. But Club 64 attorney Robert Corry, who cut a ribbon at 4:20 p.m. for the new club, said private pot dens are permissible because marijuana isn't sold, nor is it food or drink. Villano, the club owner, said the pot club would meet monthly at different locations, with the $29.99 membership fee good for only one event.

On Monday, the pot club was meeting in a hemp-based clothing store near downtown. Hooded sweatshirts and backpacks were shoved to a corner. In the main area, a few small tables sat next to a screen showing "The Big Lebowski."

A bar decorated with blue Christmas lights handed out sodas and Club 64's official snacks - Goldfish and Cheetos. The snacks were inspired by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who warned marijuana users the night of the marijuana vote, "don't break out the Cheetos or Goldfish too quickly." Club 64 gets its name from the number of the amendment.

The Denver Post reported that a similar pot club opened earlier Monday in the small southern Colorado town of Del Norte (del-NORT').

Corry said the pot clubs are intended for people who can't use marijuana at home because of local ordinance or because their landlords threaten eviction.

"It's just a place for adults to exercise their constitutional rights together," Corry said. "We're not selling pot here."

Among the new Club 64 members planning to ring in the New Year was Joe Valenciano of Denver. He heard about Club 64 yesterday and signed up immediately.

"We need more clubs like this," Valenciano said.

An hour after opening, no police were seen outside Club 64. Villano said the club wanted to open symbolically at 4:20 p.m., but that the party wouldn't get going until about 9 p.m., when DJs were scheduled to start as members prepared for pot-filled countdown to burn in the New Year.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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