Kalamazoo bar starts weekly cannabis club as state works out regulations


    Rupert's Brew Pub in Kalamazoo. (WWMT/Cyrus Raymond)

    The owner of a Kalamazoo bar embraced the legalization of recreational marijuana in a unique way.

    Mark Rupert, the owner of Rupert's Brew Pub in Kalamazoo started a private cannabis club that meets weekly.

    "I very much think people are nervous to speak out about it. I kind of want to slap that out of here with all the bad ideas," said Rupert.

    He was not shy about why he has embracing recreational marijuana with a private cannabis club, an event he said would be a resource to marijuana smokers as the state works out rules and regulations.

    "A lot of the dispensaries are closing so people need a place they can come together and sit down relax and talk to people about the new laws," Rupert said.

    In fact, Rupert already hosted a meet up over the weekend, which he said attracted hundreds of people. He said the meeting went smoothly.

    His plan is to start charging a membership fee.

    "We've had the health department OK us, give us permission, written permission. Even the Kalamazoo Police Department came in and said, 'Well, we just wanted to check in on how things are going and it looks private,'" Rupert said.

    Rupert said he's been careful about complying with laws.

    The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) is aware of the cannabis club.

    A LARA spokesperson said Rupert's could face an issue with its liquor license, because a brewery may not act as a private club unless they surrender their liquor license or put it in escrow.

    "We're not trying to mess around. This is a serious thing and we want people to take it that way," Rupert said. "I'm getting positive feed back across the board. it's really heartwarming and it makes me feel good we are finally doing something about the situation."

    Anyone interested in gathering, Rupert's is hosting another meet up 10 p.m. Jan. 19, 2019.

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