Denver Finally Grants First License For Cannabis Cafe

Even though both medical and recreational marijuana have been legalized in many parts of the United States, there’s one issue that has still not been resolved: there wasn’t a cannabis cafe where you could use marijuana once you buy it.

At this point, the only place to legally use marijuana is in a private home. Most hotels still don’t allow it, and it’s strictly prohibited in public places.

Denver has been looking to change that. In 2016, city voters approved the creation of cannabis cafes – sometimes referred to as cannabis clubs – that would allow marijuana users to partake of what they buy.

More than a year later, it’s finally about to happen.

Cannabis Cafe

City officials told the Associated Press earlier this year that they had received the first application for a cannabis cafe. The co-owners – Rita Tsalyuk and Kiril Merkulov – plan to call the establishment the Cannabis Joint.

In late February, the city approved the license. The Cannabis Joint will charge $5 at the door to get in. It will allow the use of edible marijuana products and vaporizers. They also plan to serve food, coffee and tea, and will also hold special events.

It’s the first such establishment in the U.S. and represents a big leap forward for the marijuana industry. “We want to give a better name to the cannabis industry and be good for residents, too,” Tsalyuk told the AP.

The Challenges

While alcohol has been served in bars since the end of prohibition in the early 20th century, it’s been far more difficult to get the idea of a cannabis cafe officially approved. Meanwhile – much like in the Prohibition Era – secret cannabis cafes have opened in some parts of Colorado, according to the AP.

It took Denver officials nine months just to iron out all the wrinkles in even accepting applications for cannabis cafes. They faced numerous issues, including:

Location. The city mandates locating cannabis cafes more than twice the distance away from schools and any other place children gather than what is required for a bar.

Acceptance. City rules call for local neighborhood associations to give approval for a cannabis cafe in their area, which the Cannabis Joint has obtained.

No alcohol. Establishments that already have a liquor license are not allowed to also sell marijuana products or allow cannabis use.

Other states also have had difficulty establishing rules around the “social-use” issue. Officials in both Massachusetts and Alaska have pushed back establishing the rules until late in 2018 at the earliest.

Nevada and the city San Francisco might be next. Both are moving forward with plans of their own for cannabis cafes. However, officials everywhere have slowed down the process because they are not willing to blaze the trail for cannabis cafes, according to Forbes.

That’s even the case in Clark County, Nevada, home to Las Vegas, a clear indication of how tough an issue it is to establish cannabis cafes. “I don’t see any reason why we have to be first,” county Commissioner Jim Gibson told Forbes.

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