Colorado’s largest city is on the brink of licensing some of the nation’s first legal marijuana clubs.
But Denver’s elaborate hurdles for potential weed-friendly coffee shops and gathering places may mean the city gets few takers for the new licenses.
Denver voters approved bring-your-own-pot clubs in a ballot measure last year after city officials’ dragged their feet on calls to give legal pot smokers a place to use the drug. The city plans to start accepting applications by the end of the month.
“There are plenty of places where you can consume alcohol. Let’s give people a place to go to consume marijuana,” said Jordan Person, head of Denver NORML, which advocates for pot-friendly public policy.
But Denver’s would-be “social use” clubs have faced one delay after another.
First, the state liquor board prohibited pot use at any place with a liquor license, making bars and many restaurants off-limits. And pot shops can’t allow consumption on the premises.
That left gathering places like coffee shops, art galleries and yoga studios. Furthermore, would-be clubs must stay twice as far as liquor stores from schools and anywhere children congregate, including playgrounds and sports fields.
“We can’t be in places where it makes sense,” said Kayvan Khalatbari, a Denver marijuana consultant who helped run last year’s club campaign.
City officials say the rules are as flexible as possible given stiff resistance from some community groups and marijuana skeptics. The voter-approved club measure also says the club licenses are a pilot program and neighborhood groups must agree to allow a club before it could open.
The voter-approved club measure also says the club licenses are a pilot program and neighborhood groups must agree to allow a club before it could open.
“There were no surprises in the rules,” said Dan Rowland, spokesman