Colorado Cannabis Social Clubs : An Insiders Guide

Colorado Cannabis Social Clubs : An Insiders Guide

At a time when most of the legal cannabis industry is bracing for impact under the current administration, Denver officials and the State of Colorado are pushing the envelope forward with the implementation of Initiative 300 for social cannabis consumption. Denver voters passed the initiative in November last year, which will make Denver the first city in the United States to offer the “Amsterdam-esque” options for cannabis consumers. The state quickly backed up the initiative by introducing Bill 17-184, which passed the Senate on March 9th of this year. As such, Colorado is clearly setting the tone that the people are willing and ready to allow responsible open and public consumption of cannabis.


Rule makers, unite!


Naturally, rules and regulations must be clearly established prior to allowing new businesses to open, so a Social Consumption Advisory Committee was formed early this year to research and address concerns regarding these new business endeavors. This cross-section of people from various Denver organizations and communities are tasked with creating the rules and regulatory model from both the business and permitting aspect, as well as, regulations for the individual consumers patronizing these locations. The committee met bi-weekly over the last several weeks in an attempt to tackle topics such as:


  • Proximity and Location Restrictions – establishing safe location parameters for where cannabis can be consumed while protecting the general public. It is not difficult to understand prohibiting cannabis consumption within 1000 feet of alcohol or drug treatment facilities, and/or where children may congregate, such as schools, childcare facilities, or playgrounds. Also, existing marijuana facilities are prohibited by law from obtaining a consumption licenses. (CRS 43.3-901 (1) (a) and 12-43.4- 901 (1))

  • Unlawful Acts – establishing exactly what acts are considered legal in a business which allows consumption. We already know consumers are going to be required to bring their own cannabis and no consumption business may provide cannabis to their patrons. However, now the committee must agree on rules like how much product individuals carry with them into the consumption area. Can consumers share their products? How will this affect impaired drivers and should the businesses be held responsible similar to existing dram shop laws.

  • Operational Requirements – determining advertising regulations, application requirements, and operational requirements like odor control, waste management, and security. The committee has also addressed age verification, DUI’s, and keeping all consumption out of the view of minors, as well as, addressing the Colorado Clean Indoor Air act.

The committee, after meeting five times since the first of the year, has just one more meeting scheduled on April 6th, before a draft of regulations could be made available to the public, but businesses will not be allowed to apply until all the rules have been finalized and adopted by the City of Denver.


What to Expect


The goal, in its most simple form, is to give people more places to consume so they will stop consuming it everywhere, like bus stops, parks, and other public establishments. Initiative 300 gives cannabis users the ability to discreetly and legally consume wherever the business owner allows it, provided the neighborhood approves. Any business that doesn’t sell marijuana or have a liquor license can apply to have a “Designated Consumption Area” for their patrons. In addition, special events, such as festivals and concert venues would be able to apply for temporary public consumption permits allowing designated consumption areas specifically for cannabis users. This doesn’t just mean cannabis cafes are going to start cropping up all over Denver like dispensaries. In fact, the imagination is the limit on what kinds of businesses we may see. Some of the businesses and organizations that could apply for licenses:


  • Spas and massage studios - because who wouldn’t want cannabis-infused topicals included in their massage appointments? Lotions and salves rich in cannabinoids are gaining popularity in nearly every demographic because of their relaxing, healing effects. It comes as no surprise massage therapists like them.

  • Support groups – groups for people suffering from PTSD, depression, or MS may find social consumption a positive outlet for group therapy sessions. Not to mention, micro-dosing medical patients will no longer have to go without their medication to attend.

  • Art exhibits and studios – art is designed to delight the senses, cannabis heightens the senses… combining the two only makes good sense. Whether you’re browsing the latest glass expo showcasing Denver’s local glass blowers, or strolling the aisles at a local community art fair there may likely be an area now where you can sneak off for a toke legally.

  • Gyms and yoga studios – although it may seem counter-productive to smoke if your goal is to get healthy, many people are starting use cannabis as a way to enhance concentration and focus during their workouts. Other cannabinoids also may contribute to faster post-workout recovery. Maybe your gym will have a nutritional shake bar where you can blend your cannabis greens, or a yoga studio may apply to have a DCA on their rooftop patio where patrons can vape without worry.

  • Tourism – Ask any budtender in the industry, the number one question from out-of-state consumers is “Where can I smoke this?” Until now, vacationers were really stuck in a hard spot. They can’t smoke in public, most hotels don’t allow smoking, and sitting in the car to smoke is a really bad idea. So, unless they were staying with local friends, there weren’t many legal options for tourists looking for the “while in Rome” in experience.

Although there are some unknowns in tearing down centuries-old prohibition laws, one thing is for certain, social cannabis is coming. Backed by Colorado state officials, the people of Denver made their choice clear with 54% voting Yes on Initiative 300 leading the way in the US. There are a few details that are yet to be ironed out by the committee, but the Excise & Licenses department states they are hoping to have a something available for public reaction within next couple of weeks. It’s safe to assume, a few wrinkles will surely arise as these new social establishments and cannabis consumption options are put into motion, but like it or not, by mid to late 2017 the social scene in Denver is going green.

Posted by Bob Smith
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