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Cannabis Hospitality Licenses Approved in Denver

The first licenses were issued earlier in the month, with applications being accepted beginning in November 2021. Tetra Lounge in Denver is an example of such a business. It is both a social equality applicant as well as a soon-to be owner of a license for hospitality (once proper inspections have been done).

Dewayne Benjamin, Tetra Lounge proprietor hopes everything will get done soon as there are less than one months before the arrival on 4/20. “The goal has always been to prove the model to the city. Back when I opened in 2018, they just released the first hospitality rules, which didn’t allow smoking. The plan was to get the license with that smoking provision,” Benjamin told Westword. “People travel from all around the world to smoke cannabis in Denver, and a lot of them don’t know how it affects them or where they can consume.”

Benjamin shared his views on how important it is to have a legal spot for locals and visitors to use, particularly since Denver has become a tourist hotspot. “We’re already one of the biggest tourist attractions for the cannabis industry in Colorado, and we want to use Tetra as a social place and a spot for education for the state,” Benjamin adds. “We’ve been waiting for this for so long, and we’re ready to get started.” In the past, the Tetra Lounge operated as a private social club.

Benjamin shared with 9News that his company offers both a daily and an annual membership to residents, or for frequent visitors, which gives them access to the lounge every day.

A hospitality license is also available to The Coffee Joint. It used to be the only company that was allowed to permit on-site drinking, provided it occurred outside. The city’s program was reworked, and The Coffee Joint’s license has been grandfathered in for the new hospitality rules.

There are two more hospitality license applications pending. Recently, the Patterson Inn was recommended by a hearing officer for approval for a cannabis hospitality permit. The hearing took place on March 4. “Today was an important step in this process,” Owner Chris Chiari said after the hearing. “Licensing businesses of this kind is the best route forward for the city to be able to regulate and take enforcement action when needed.” Chiari has plans to feature a cannabis-friendly area for hotel guests, although consumption in hotel rooms would not be permitted, and guests must bring their own cannabis, as there would be no sales on site.

Denver Weed Lounge has also submitted a request to both own a license for hospitality and offer sales. It would permit customers to order cannabis online and have it delivered to their home.

Eric Escudero, Communications Director at the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses told The Denver Gazette about the program’s social equity focus. “For the first six years of the program, only people designated as social equity applicants are authorized to apply for a hospitality establishment,” Escudero said. “We want to achieve the full promise of legalization, and that in our mind is making sure there’s equitable access so more people can benefit economically—not just those who have financial advantage or advantage of connections.”

The program was not implemented immediately. In April 2021, the Denver City Council approved smoke-free lounges.