Remember when we wrote about Massachusetts possibly becoming the first state to have social cannabis establishments in the United States?
Well, it seems Colorado beat them to it, with the city of Denver awarding the nation’s first social-use cannabis business permit to a local coffee shop.
The Coffee Joint will soon be able to allow customers who are at least 21 years old to bring in and consume cannabis edibles or to vape inside its premises. The shop, however, will not allow any smoking and will also not be able to sell cannabis products on site.
The Coffee Joint
The owners of The Coffee Joint, which is located at 1130 Yuma Court, east of Interstate 25 within the Lincoln Park neighborhood, had been expecting the city’s approval after a public license hearing earlier this month went unopposed. They will be able to allow social consumption in the next few weeks after building and safety inspections are done.
For now, the shop is offering free coffee as well as sneak previews. While customers may not be able to purchase cannabis products directly from The Coffee Joint, they need not worry because the shop has ownership ties to a cannabis dispensary next door. The Coffee Joint’s owners, Kirill Merkulov and Rita Tsalyuk, have equity stakes in this cannabis dispensary, called 1136 Yuma.
The Coffee Joint clarifies that it is not a club and won’t require membership. However, customers at the bring-your-own shop will have to pay a $5 cover charge in order to be admitted. Those who buy cannabis products from the next-door dispensary will enjoy free entry. The shop will serve tea and coffee, along with non-infused food items and other products.
The Coffee Joint is located in a gritty industrial area, strategically avoiding restrictive proximity rules that are meant to keep cannabis businesses from allowing consumption on their premises within 1,000 feet of schools, alcohol and drug treatment facilities, and child care centers.
To recall, 54 percent of voters in Denver approved what is called “Initiative 300” in November 2016. Initiative 300 provides for the availability of the cannabis consumption establishment license – the first of its kind – under a pilot program.
It can be said that one of the motivations behind this move was to provide tourists with more places to consume weed considering that the city does not allow the use of the drug in public.
However, because of the strict regulatory requirements for applicants, no businesses have been granted the social-use permit until just now. In fact, The Coffee Joint was the first applicant when it submitted its application in December. This after it had received the required support from its neighborhood group, the La Alma-Lincoln Park Neighborhood Association.
Denver Department of Excise and Licenses Executive Director Ashley Kilroy signed a decision approving The Coffee Joint’s Cannabis Consumption Establishment license on Monday. She had adopted an earlier recommendation by the hearing officer.
What’s next, a cannabis spa?
Meanwhile, Utopia All Natural Wellness Spa and Lounge is the second social-use applicant and is still waiting to receive a public license hearing. The result of the hearing will determine whether the business gets approval from the city.
The adults-only spa, to be located at the Creswell Mansion, 1244 Grant St., will have two weed consumption areas – indoor and outdoor – pursuant to the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act. The indoor consumption area is where adults can vape and consume edibles, while the outdoor area is where adult customers can smoke cannabis flower out of view from the neighbors.
Utopia will offer cannabis-infused massages, as well as ganja yoga sessions. It also intends to host cannabis events for healing services, social consumption, and natural products. The facility is going to be open to the public but will also offer private memberships that allow easy access to designated consumption areas.
City licensing officials also said they have heard from other interested parties.