UPDATED March 16, 2018: History in the Making! Denver’s First Social Cannabis Club is officially open for consumption. “The Coffee Joint” received its license from the City of Denver Friday, March 16, 2018, making it the first legal Social Marijuana Consumption Club in the country.
DENVER: The country's first application for a business license that allows for patrons to legally use cannabis was approved by the Denver City Council on Monday. The first approved application was granted to a coffee shop that will also be a social club for cannabis connoisseurs. The aptly named The Coffee Joint should be open for business in a few weeks in Denver's Lincoln Park neighborhood pending building inspections, according to The Denver Post.
The Coffee Joint will have a speakeasy atmosphere because it will not have a license to sell marijuana, but adults 21 years-of-age or older will be able to socialize while publicly eating edibles and vaping their own marijuana on the premises. No smoking will be permitted except for outdoors. Officials said that the shop needs several city inspections before the license becomes official and patrons can consume cannabis.
Voters approved the ballot initiative permitting marijuana social clubs in 2016 when they voted yes on Initiative 300. Denver will be the first city in the country to issue a license allowing for patrons to publicly consume weed. The motivation for the initiative was so that tourists would have places to consume cannabis because they are prohibited from consuming cannabis in hotels. The Coffee Joint was the first establishment to apply for the license back in December of last year.
Husband and wife team and owners of The Coffee Joint Rita Tsalyuk and Kirill Merkulov have already opened the downtown shop located at 1130 Yuma Court next to a marijuana dispensary called 1136 Yuma. Merkulov is also the owner of the cannabis dispensary next door, and The Coffee Joint will host tasting events for cannabis-infused edibles and other cannabis products but will remain a coffee shop and social club. Tsalyuk says that she is excited for the license to become official and has been offering complimentary coffee as a preview to her patrons.
Cannabis social clubs, or social consumption locations as they are called on the initiative, aren't allowed within 1000 feet of a daycare center, school, or drug addiction rehabilitation centers. Public consumption is also not permitted in Denver, but the new law will serve as a model for other cities and states who will be monitoring the success of the shop and are considering opening cannabis cafes or marijuana social clubs.
Established businesses in the alcohol industry are already expanding into the cannabis industry. Molson Coors Brewing Company located in Denver and Montreal listed the cannabis industry as a risk factor on their Securities and Exchange Commission quarterly report. The SEC report suggests changing focus along with consumers' preferences and makes Molson Coors the first publicly traded company to reference the legal marijuana industry in an annual financial report. The Coffee Joint's success could be the beginning of another trend in Colorado.
Tsalyuk said she got the idea for the coffee shop after patrons of her husband's cannabis shop repeatedly asked where they could consume cannabis. She said that she is hiring more staff, adding that she feels pride and a responsibility to give back to the community.
The Coffee Joint plans to charge pot patrons $5 bucks per person for entry and is currently serving tea, coffee, snacks, and candy while awaiting the city's several inspections and licensing. Tsalyuk also plans to teach yoga, art and educational classes at the coffee shop. Merkulov and Tsalyuk have been open for business since January and are hoping to be open for cannabis connoisseurs within two weeks and they formally have their social consumption license for patrons.