Thursday July 19, 2018

By Erin Hiatt

Colorado Social Consumption Lounge Update 420 Culture

Since January 1, 2014, Colorado residents and visitors have had access to legal, adult-use marijuana. What they haven’t had is a public place to consume it. That’s no longer the case, thanks to Denver Initiative 300, passed by voters in November, 2016. The new legislation allows businesses to apply for cannabis consumption licenses – Denver-based The Coffee Joint is the first business in the U.S. to receive such a license.

While public consumption lounges have yet to prove their effectiveness or popularity in Colorado, many tourists and locals alike could benefit from a public place to legally consume their cannabis. While only time will tell the true results, we’re expecting to see much less illegal public consumption as more social consumption lounges pop up. On that note, let’s take a closer look at where Colorado social consumption lounges are headed in the future.

Initiative 300: Overview and Progress

Blazing yet another cannabis trail, Initiative 300 is the first legislation in Colorado that allows for businesses like coffee shops, art galleries, entertainment venues and yoga studios to have designated indoor areas for adult-use marijuana consumption. Because of Colorado’s Clean Indoor Air Act, I-300 allows for vaping and edibles indoors, and smoking outdoors.

Initiative 300
Initiative 300 passed in Colorado in November of 2016.

On February 26, 2018, The Coffee Joint, in the Lincoln Park area of Denver, received the first cannabis consumption establishment license, allowing customers to consume cannabis products on-site. And though The Coffee Joint cannot legally sell any marijuana, The Coffee Joint co-owner, Rita Tsalyuk, also manages the dispensary right next door, 1136 Yuma.

Customers are more than welcome to purchase cannabis legal at 1136 Yuma and take their purchase next door to The Coffee Joint to consume them.

A friendly community for cannabis consumers is what The Coffee Joint strives for and their stated goal is to “provide the community with a high class establishment that offers a safe & social environment to consume cannabis products & learn about cannabis education. Our main goal is to offer cannabis entertainment & education to all who enter.”

The Coffee Joint: A Place for Cannabis Consumers

The Coffee Joint manager, Meredith Wharton, says that they plan to host community events, like yoga, cooking classes, educational events and movie nights. “It’s a great way to educate the community,” Wharton told Denver publication 5280. “It’s a great opportunity for people to learn about cannabis and get rid of the stigma that weed is just for stoners.”

1136 Yuma and The Coffee Joint, located at 1130 Yuma, are working closely on this new venture, which makes a lot of sense given that the co-owners of The Coffee Joint, Rita Tsalyuk and Kirill Merkulov, are married to the co-owners of 1136 Yuma. They knew at the beginning of the process the restrictions and location requirements to legally operate, and were prepared to take on the extensive administrative demands.

Yuma and Coffee Joint
1136 Yuma and The Coffee Joint are conveniently located right next to each other! photo credit

Operating in a light industrial area east of Interstate 25, The Coffee Joint also has a key supporter; The La Alma-Lincoln Park Neighborhood Association, an important step because I-300 requires that a consumption establishment have backing from a neighborhood or business group, who are also at liberty to set additional restrictions, based on the area.

The price of admission to The Coffee Joint is five dollars -- but you do get a free cup of coffee or tea, and of course, must bring your own marijuana. Those who are customers of 1136 Yuma will have their entry fee waived, and if you bring THC coffee from 1136, The Coffee Joint will even prepare it for you!

Benefits of Initiative 300

Other than providing a safe space for cannabis lovers to consume, the passage of I-300 is believed to have other, tangible benefits. It is anticipated that consumption space will reduce odor and public nuisance complaints, take a bite out of the black market by providing attractive social spaces to consumers, reduce intoxicated driving rates and potentially increase tax revenues for jurisdictions allowing lounges.

As it stands now, I-300 will sunset in 2020 unless local government extends it or another voter initiative comes around. So, here’s to the great success of social consumption lounges in Denver! May it open doors for other businesses to follow.


What are your thoughts on social consumption clubs in Denver? Let us know in the comments!


Erin Hiatt Erin Hiatt

Erin Hiatt writes about cannabis, psychedelics, hemp, politics, and drug policy reform for THC Mag and Freedom Leaf. She has also written for AlterNet and Vice. Erin's work and industry insights have been featured as the hemp and media specialist for the Cannabis and Hemp Association and as a guest on "In The Know 420," speaking on federal and international drug policy. Erin's background is in the entertainment industry, where she worked as a print model and actress on stage, film, television, and commercials. Erin is an avid hiker, trekking much of the southwest, and is a proud member of Actors Equity. You can follow her work on Wordpress, @erinhiatt on Twitter, and @erinisred on Instagram.


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