More than a year after voters approved a measure to allow social cannabis clubs` in the city of Denver, the city has finally received its first application, as a local coffee shop aims to be the nation’s first legal marijuana club.
Nation’s First Legal Marijuana Club
According to Dan Rowland, a spokesperson for the Denver department that regulates marijuana businesses, the Coffee Joint submitted Denver’s first-ever application to open a bring-your-own pot shop.
The shop, which is still currently under construction, is set to open in a light industrial area off Interstate 25.
Co-owners Rita Tsalyuk and Kirill Merkulov say that construction of the local coffee shop is almost complete. If approved for a license, the duo plans to charge a $5 entry fee, and customers would be allowed to use vape pens or edible cannabis products. According to Tsalyuk, the shop would also sell food, host events and provide free coffee or tea to its patrons.
Tsalyuk told the Associated Press that she expects the coffee shop to open before Christmas, but it will remain a traditional coffee shop until their application is approved. She expects cannabis to be allowed in her business sometime around March 2018.
“I want it to have a Starbucks feeling, but more like the Highlands,” said Tsalyuk. “They’ll watch TV, listen to music, do art, there will be lessons, educational events, just no cannabis… yet.”
Denver first began taking applications around August, but the Coffee Joint is the only business to submit an application thus far, due to an extensive application process and strict rules regarding club locations. For example, pot clubs are required to be twice as far from schools and other child-friendly locations as liquor stores.
Additionally, state restrictions don’t allow cannabis-use at any business with a liquor license. This has caused entrepreneurs like Tsalyuk and Merkulov, to get creative with their shops. Other potential pot clubs in the works include a video arcade, a day spa and a music venue.
Final Hit: Coffee Shop Aims To Be Nation’s First Legal Marijuana Club
Although the city has just started to review the Coffee Joint’s application, the business has already received backing from the La Alma-Lincoln Park Neighborhood Association, which could prove to be integral to their ultimate license approval. Applicants are required to show community support as part of the licensing process.
“I really feel comfortable,” said Aubrey Lavizzo, who is part of the neighborhood association. “Our main concerns where whether or not they are going to be good neighbors, but they were coming to our meeting and answering all their questions.”
However, Lavizzo did express some concern regarding drivers under the influence of cannabis, especially near a large highway like Interstate 25. Tsalyuk said she recommends customers find a designator driver, but will also train her staff to be aware of intoxication.
“We are not going to police them if that’s what you mean, but we will help them out to make the right decisions,” said Tsalyuk.
Despite some of the prevalent obstacles in opening the nation’s first legal marijuana club, Tsalyuk remains upbeat about the endeavor.
“We want to give a better name to the cannabis industry and be good for residents, too,” Tsalyuk said.