DENVER (CBS4) – Denver police have busted organizers of a marijuana club operating out of an art gallery. The organizers offered free pot in exchange for donations to the gallery.
CBS4 Investigator Rick Sallinger first reported on the deal when he went undercover to the gallery two months ago.
Last November voters approved Amendment 64, legalizing recreational pot. But there’s still no system for buying and selling it, so places like the 530 gallery have come up with their own unique ways.
Adam Zimmerli and Devon Hawk Hazard now face felony charges for distribution of marijuana.
Back in February Sallinger paid a visit to the 530 gallery on Santa Fe in Denver’s Art District. It had been running an ad on Craigslist which offered “high grade marijuana, free with a donation to the gallery.” Sallinger was offer pot if he joined the Cannabis Club of Denver.
“As a member of the Cannabis Club Of Denver, you follow Amendment 64,” the man at the gallery told Sallinger.
The gallery is just one of many places in Colorado Sallinger found offering free pot in exchange for donations. What wasn’t known at the time was that Denver police were conducting an undercover investigation of the gallery and its club. Arrests were later made.
“We believe that the club had no illegal actions and that ultimately it’s going to be for a jury of our peers from Denver here to decide,” Zimmerli said.
Inside, vice and narcotics officers received hundreds of dollars of pot with marked money put into a jar marked “Donations.”
Zimmerli said the money was absolutely donations to the gallery.
“We didn’t sell marijuana to anyone, we never distributed marijuana, we did have a private marijuana club,” he said.
They claim what they were doing is “sharing” marijuana as prescribed under Amendment 64.
“We never broke a law. We really were just there for the people, giving them a safe place to be,” Hazard said. “We were abiding by the law that the state voted for.”
The Cannabis Club of Colorado is said to have over 500 members. The gallery is still operating, but the club is now on hold.
Zimmerli says police didn’t have to conduct undercover operation. They could have just called and told him to quit.