Is It Legal to Open a Cannabis Lounge in Colorado?

In a friendly world of weed, Colorado still has a lot of loopholes for public consumption.

The world of recreational marijuana, introduced by Colorado and Washington in 2014, creates a variety of different problems for regulators. For one thing, the cannabis plant largely remains restricted at the federal level. Furthermore, the plant has been heavily restricted by governments for the last hundred years and had never been implemented into a legal market prior to the implementation of these two states.

With this in mind, the states struggled with a variety of issues ranging from social consumption to banking regulations for the federally restricted industry and controls on how to stop the black market sale of cannabis. With this in mind, it has been nearly half a decade since adult use of cannabis was voted by the people of the state.

The adult-use cannabis market was lucky to see Denver become the first city in America to regulate consumption lounges for the budding sector. The licensing process has been criticized for the strict process required to open one of these regulated cannabis consumption lounges. Let’s dive in and take a deeper look.

What is a Social Consumption Lounge?

The state of Colorado legalized cannabis in 2014 but with that, there were loopholes which the original legislation failed to address. The state restricted public consumption of marijuana, only allowing it on private property with the landlord's permission. Yet, tourists and many renters across the state were left with no place to properly consume the now legal cannabis plant.

The city of Denver voted to legalize the social consumption lounges in the 2016 election. This would allow businesses to apply for a special license for cannabis consumption inside. Yet, due to the state's clean air act, social consumption lounges are only allowed to permit vaporizing cannabis products with an oil rig or vaporizer.

Application Process for Cannabis Consumption Lounges

The city requires businesses looking to apply for a social consumption lounge to follow a strict zoning process prior to opening. According to the application website, the state requires applicants to pay a $1,000 licensing fee and an additional $1,000 application fee to start the application process. The state also requires the applicants to come up with a controlled odor plan to ensure they do not disturb surrounding businesses.

Slow Progress for Social Consumption Lounges

The City of Denver worked for many months to create a rule set for the cannabis social consumption lounges. While the legislation was required to be passed due to a successful referendum vote by the citizens of Denver, some feared the social lounges would give the federal government the right to intervene in the state’s adult -use cannabis program.

The city put together an encompassing set of regulatory requirements for businesses to follow before they would be approved for a social consumption license. This has largely deterred businesses from applying for the license while a couple of years have passed since it was implemented only one business has been approved and operational for the cannabis social consumption license.

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