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Coffee Joint wants to be first legal pot lounge in the state

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The city of Denver began accepting applications for its newly available “cannabis consumption establishment” and “cannabis consumption special event” licenses back in August after six months of rule-making around the city’s voter-approved Initiative 300. The first application is just now making its way through the licensing process. If approved, the Coffee Joint will be the first government-sanctioned pot lounge in that city, while a years-long back-and-forth here in Colorado Springs saw similar businesses try (and largely fail) to gain legitimacy.

Denver voters adopted the citizen initiated Initiative 300 in November 2016. It was designed to address a question that neither Amendment 64, the state constitutional amendment legalizing adult-use cannabis, nor subsequent regulations, ever properly addressed. That is: If adults over 21 are allowed to consume cannabis, but not in public, how do we expect tourists, renters and everyone else unable to consume in a private residence to lawfully exercise that right? Or, put another way: If voters truly wanted to “regulate marijuana like alcohol,” as it says in Amendment 64, then why aren’t cannabis clubs, the equivalent of bars, legal?

Initiative 300 created a pilot permitting program for cannabis consumption establishments. There are specific eligibility criteria, like getting approval from the relevant neighborhood association, having a designated smoking area that’s out of public view and being at least 1,000 feet away from any school, child care facility or drug treatment center. A 22-member committee created more detailed rules.

Co-owners of 1136 Yuma, a medical and retail dispensary at that address just off Interstate 25 in Denver’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, have applied for the first permit. It’s for a new coffee shop/pot lounge hybrid called the Coffee Joint that’s set to open next to 1136 Yuma with or without the permit. According to Westword, the applicants, if approved, plan to charge a $5 cover, offer a café-style menu and allow non-smoking forms of consumption indoors.

Their application is still under review, says Dan Rowland, spokesperson for Denver’s Department of Excise and Licenses. “If it looks good, we will schedule a public hearing,” he told the Indy by email.

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