Legal Marijuana Strip Clubs in Colorado
Marijuana strip clubs… Wonderful or questionable?
The Smokin Gun Apothecary is opening next to the Denver area’s best-known strip club, Shotgun Willie’s, with just a parking lot between them. Both businesses have the same owner, who envisions pot shoppers getting discounted drinks at the strip club.
The development raises ethical and potentially legal issues about the state’s growing legal recreational pot industry, one of the first in the United States.
Colorado bans the sale of pot and alcohol in the same location. It also bans public marijuana consumption, but it allows local governments to decide whether to allow private pot clubs. Smokin’ Gun is preparing a rooftop lounge in anticipation of a local ordinance to allow shoppers to smoke.
Owner Deborah Dunafon says there’s no reason to fear the strip club will break state law and allow her marijuana-shop patrons to get high there.
She’s the only person in the country who owns both a legal marijuana shop and a strip club.
Dunafon’s husband, Mike Dunafon, is mayor. Last year, he cast the deciding vote on the Glendale City Council to approve the Smokin Gun’s site plan, which prompted an ethics complaint by nonpartisan watchdog group Colorado Ethics Watch.
Mike Dunafon initially recused himself from the vote, but when the vote was tied at 3-3, a city manager said he was able to break the tie under Colorado statute, according to minutes from the meeting.
“This is a clear conflict of interest,” said Luis Toro, head of Colorado Ethics Watch. The complaint goes to the city council, which could decide to reprimand the mayor. No date has been set for a vote.
Mike Dunafon insists the complaint is frivolous and says he wasn’t married to the strip club owner at the time. But Toro says he was living with her.
A lawyer for the city of Glendale, Jeffrey Springer, insisted that the Dunafons’ finances are separate and that the mayor did not violate ethics.