KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) – The passage of Proposal 1 decriminalized possession and use of recreational marijuana, but it still remains in a legal and cultural limbo as lawmakers and communities grapple with how to deal – not just with how pot will be sold but what it means for society.
That has led the owner of a Kalamazoo brew pub to use his business as a place for people interested in what he calls ‘cannabis culture to come together.
Mark Rupert, owner of Rupert’s Brew House, 773 W. Michigan Ave., says his plan is not to create a hash bash, instead he wants to create a community of support and education.
But it operates in a legal no man’s land that has the attention of officials.
“They were, like: ‘you can’t do this’ and I’m like: I’m not doing anything other than what I would normally be doing on a Saturday night, except tonight, I’m throwing a birthday party for weed.”
Mark Rupert has been operating the pub since 2013 in a nearly 100-year-old building that is best remembered as the former Boogie Records and head shop.
Starting Saturday night, the pub will be home to weekly members-only event where for $20 a month people can talk about marijuana, exchange tips for growing or making edibles and exchanging gifts of marijuana as allowed now under state law.
“I think it’s important that the community have a safe place where they can come together and just talk about it, it’s recreational now we should be able to get rid of the stigma,” Rupert said.
While the pub will be closed to the general public, people can register on-site and there will be alcohol and beer available including their signature peanut butter porter.
“The idea is to create a cultural phenomenon that people can feel safe and talk about cannabis, cannabis products, cultivation,” he said “If people indulge a little bit here and there, then that’s on them, but we’re not creating a smoke den.”
He said any selling or anything that violates the law will not be tolerated and knuckleheads are not allowed.
“We want people who want to be here for what it is, it’s something bigger and if you don’t want to be a part of that, then you’re not welcome,” Rupert said. “I think it’s important that the community have a safe place where they can come together and just talk about it, it’s recreational now, we should be able to get rid of the stigma.”
Attorneys familiar with Proposal 1 say this is new territory that will likely have to be sorted out by lawmakers, something Rupert says he encourages.
He says he has made sure what he is doing is legal and in compliance with Liquor Control Commission standards and Saturday he explained the concept to Kalamazoo County Health Department officials.
“To them it was ‘oh, they’re gonna make a bunch of brownies and they’re gonna cook up a bunch of weird stuff in their ovens and they’re just gonna have a big weed party’ and it took a little bit of me just saying look, this is the exact same thing as a company outing, a private event or wedding reception,” Rupert said. “We don’t know what to expect, it could be four people, it could be 400 which we’ll have to turn people away at that point in time.”
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