NEDERLAND – When voters approved Amendment 64, Cheryl and David Fanelli began a journey of establishing a place where people can smoke marijuana legally together outside of their homes. They say their dream is finally becoming reality.
"It's been rough," Cheryl Fanelli, owner of Club Ned, said. "They were writing the laws as we were developing this."
The Fanelli's plan to open a private club called Club Ned in the town of Nederland located in the mountains of Boulder County. They believe this will be the first-ever sanctioned cannabis club in the nation.
"Is this history? This is history," David Fanelli, owner of Club Ned, said. "Are we pioneers? Maybe more than pioneers."
Other cannabis clubs have opened in Denver and around the state, but Club Ned is the only one to receive approval from several layers of government. Some of other clubs are currently engaged in legal battles and zoning issues.
"We went to the town. We went to the Marshal. We went to Jeff Gard, our attorney. He talked with the (district attorney) and we basically got everybody's approval," Cheryl Fanelli said.
The Fanellis said they wanted to make sure they jumped through every legal hoop to make sure that there are no legal snags in opening a club for people to socially smoke marijuana together.
"Having our attorney add marijuana to the Colorado Clean Air Indoor Act, that was really the key," Cheryl Fanelli said.
The Colorado Clean Air Indoor Act prohibits smoking of any kind inside of businesses. But, the Fanelli's say by adding marijuana specifically to the law, they now have a legal framework to operate. They are organizing their club much like the Veterans of Foreign Wars Posts or Elk's Clubs. These are private places where smoking is allowed inside.
"Because you don't have too many employees and because our food sales aren't over a certain amount," Cheryl Fanelli said.
The Fanellis believe by designing this club they are paving the way for other people to do the same.
"We can only take 30 people, there needs to be more clubs," Cheryl Fanelli said.
People will have to purchase memberships and schedule a time to come to Club Ned. Members will have to bring their own marijuana. Only food and drinks will be sold at Club Ned.
"This is all gonna be set up with tables," David Fanelli said. "And, this will be our acoustical stage area."
They believe that not only are they creating a social space for pot smokers. They are going to advocate for safety as well. The Fanelli's say no one will leave their establishment too stoned to drive or to be in public.
"We have a code of conduct that you have to agree to and sign before you ever come in and that's part of it," Cheryl Fanelli said. "If we feel that you shouldn't be out on the streets, you are not going to be out on the streets for a while."
She says without cannabis clubs, people will likely smoke pot in parks, in their cars, or other places where it is illegal to consume.
"Keep everybody safe in a nice place where someone can watch over them," Cheryl Fanelli said.
Club Ned will open in a few weeks. The Fanellis plan to engage in community service work while also educating the public about the effects of marijuana. They will also host private parties and even run a gift shop with Club Ned merchandise.
"We'll have cups, mugs, ashtrays," David Fanelli said. "Anything that can support that name."
Cheryl Fanellis says this has been a long 14-month journey, but she says it's worth it.
"We didn't know how many hoops of fire we were going to have to jump through, but we knew it would happen," Cheryl Fanelli said.