While most things have stalled out due to COVID-19, Denver is considering taking a step toward expanding its marijuana hospitality industry to support things like marijuana lounges and other in-person cannabis experiences.
While weed hospitality wasn’t legal statewide until 2020, Denver’s program, Initiative 300, was implemented in 2017.
Unfortunately, while it’s a great program in theory, Initiative 300’s regulations are tighter than the state’s regulations, making it a challenging feat for business owners. This is reflected by the fact that, to date, there are only three licensed marijuana lounges in Colorado, according to the Marijuana Enforcement Division.
Denver’s new Marijuana Licensing Work Group met online on May 28, according to Westword, to discuss whether Denver should allow more pot-friendly businesses. The group advises the Denver city council on marijuana business matters.
“As far as policy not considering business models, I think the way I-300 got rolled out was a pretty clear fail. It just doesn’t work. It’s virtually impossible to make money from this, and that’s why there are so few (420 friendly businesses),” Truman Bradley, head of the Marijuana Industry Group, said during the meeting.
Case and point, Denver does not allow for smoking or marijuana sales within 420-friendly establishments. However, these activities are now allowed by the state, and could render Denver far behind the rest of the state as far as pot hospitality goes.
While the group conceded that the city’s strict restrictions are posing a serious barrier to generate any wide-scale business interest, the future direction of the program is still up in the air. This is mostly due to concern over youth use.
If Denver wants to be a leader across the country, heck — even across the state — its marijuana legislation it needs to find a way to keep up with the quickly evolving industry. In terms of options for cannabis consumption, we’ve already fallen far behind states like California, and we will continue to lose that momentum the longer we hold back on finding safe, legal ways for the industry to grow and thrive.
The next Marijuana Licensing Work Group public meeting will be held online June 11.