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Colorado Is Finally Getting Its First Cannabis Club

February 28, 2018

A young man rolls a cannabis joint at a marijuana lounge in Barcelona, Spain. Such establishments have been slow to pop up in America's state-legal marijuana markets. (Photo by: Sergi Reboredo/VW PICS/UIG via Getty Images)

The city of Denver granted its first license on Monday to a business that will allow marijuana use on its premises. The Coffee Joint plans to charge patrons a $5 entry fee and permit them to consume their own cannabis in edible or vapor form.

Denver voters approved a measure to create a social-use pilot program in 2016. Interested businesses like cafes and art galleries must jump through several bureaucratic hurdles to apply – including obtaining the support of a neighborhood group. The Coffee Joint was the first business to submit an application and received no opposition to its plan to allow cannabis consumption on its premises. Businesses that serve alcohol are barred from applying.

While several states have now legalized adult-use marijuana, no state has implemented a social-use program yet. The lack of cannabis-friendly space presents challenges for tourists and residents alike, who are legally only allowed to consume cannabis in private residences. Denver's pilot program was the first regulated program of its kind – although states including Alaska, Nevada, and Massachusetts have been discussing implementing a similar program.

Unlicensed cannabis lounges have been in business for years in California's unregulated medical marijuana program. After the state introduced its adult-use marijuana market this January, San Francisco has taken steps to license such businesses.

Meanwhile, pot entrepreneurs are taking advantage of legal loopholes to launch their own marijuana lounges. In Massachusetts, The Summit Lounge opened its doors as a private club for members "to smoke anything that's legal in Massachusetts."

While social marijuana use was part of the Massachusetts' legalization law that passed in 2016, cannabis regulators voted to delay licensing such businesses until at least October.

Denver received its second social-use application earlier this month from the Utopia All Natural Wellness Spa and Lounge. The business hopes to offer cannabis-infused massages, ganja yoga and a variety of weed-friendly events.

Originally published here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/monazhang/2018/02/27/colorado-is-finally-getting-its-first-cannabis-club/#74522ca86cdd

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