Denver Coffee Shop About to Become First Business in U.S. to Allow Marijuana Use

A Denver coffee shop has received city approval to allow marijuana use by customers.

A coffee shop in Denver will soon become the nation’s first business to allow marijuana use on its premises. Last week, the city of Denver granted its first social marijuana license to The Coffee Joint, an already-operating coffee shop located in the Lincoln Park neighborhood.

Initiative 300, approved by 54 percent of Denver voters in November 2016, launched a program that allows for the licensing of public consumption of cannabis within city limits. Nine months after the measure was approved, the city began accepting applications, and The Coffee Joint was the first to apply.

A lack of cannabis-friendly space presents challenges to some residents, who under Colorado’s marijuana law are only allowed to consume marijuana in private. Tourists who travel to Denver specifically to purchase marijuana legally have difficulty finding locations where they can legally use it.

Residents and tourists aged 21 and older will soon be able to bring their own marijuana vaping materials or edibles to The Coffee Joint and legally enjoy them while at the shop. The coffee café will not allow marijuana smoking, which under Colorado’s law is only allowed outdoors.

The shop’s co-owners, Rita Tsalyuk and Kirill Merkulov, plan to charge a $5 entry fee and sell food, host art and music events, and provide free coffee or tea. The coffee shop is not allowed to sell any marijuana products on site. The co-owners do, however, have ownership ties to a marijuana dispensary next door.

The coffee shop still needs to have building and safety inspections completed, and hopes to open sometime in the next couple of weeks.

“Tons of people already came in,” said Tsalyuk. “We’re offering free coffee and sneak previews” of the coffee shop.

While some U.S. cities have allowed the consumption of marijuana in dispensaries for years, Denver’s program is the first nationally to allow marijuana use by customers of regular businesses.

The city has already received its second social-use application from a local spa and yoga studio, which hopes to offer cannabis-infused massages, ganja yoga, and other cannabis-friendly events.

denver vaping in public

Marijuana in Colorado

It’s been over five years since Colorado became the nation’s first state to legalize recreational marijuana and implement a commercial market. Adults can legally buy and possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana.

The state’s marijuana market has experienced continual growth since the launch of its recreational program, hitting a record $1.51 billion in total marijuana sales in 2017. The city of Aspen is now selling more marijuana than alcohol.

Colorado pulled in $247 million in taxes and fees from recreational and medical marijuana last year. Most of that revenue goes to education and school construction efforts. The state has also used cannabis money to open new mental health care clinics.

The state’s market has continued to grow despite growing concerns over a potential federal crackdown. Colorado Republican Senator Cory Gardner and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions have feuded over recent changes in federal policy that permit federal prosecutors to interfere with state-legal operations.

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