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.