Just over a year ago, Denver passed a ballot initiative at the local level to allow businesses to open that would permit social cannabis consumption on site. Since then, there has been a lot of preparation for the Neighborhood Supported Cannabis Consumption Pilot Program, which allows a business to permit people 21 or older to consume cannabis on the property – with the support of a neighborhood sponsor.
The first application to the program, a coffee shop to be called The Coffee Joint, is now under review. Co-owners Rita Tsalyuk and Kirill Merkulov intend to open the shop soon as just a regular coffee shop, but a few months down the road they hope to be able to allow customers to bring their own cannabis to consume while enjoying coffee, tea and other treats.
The way the law is set up, businesses that allow on-site consumption cannot sell marijuana products themselves – however, Tsalyuk and Merkulov have the next best thing as far as business plans go.
“My husband and business partner have ownership of a dispensary right next door,” Tsalyuk said.
If they receive approval from the city, they intend to charge a $5 entry fee for those planning to consume cannabis during their visit. They will offer free coffee and tea, and will sell food, host events and potentially rent out vaporizing equipment and sell other cannabis-related paraphernalia.
They plan to convert a garage space on their building for an event they plan to call “vape and paint”. There are also plans to have a small room for private events.
Unfortunately, options for consumption will be limited at this location, allowing only the use of edibles and vaporizers. The reason being that there is no outdoor patio space at the coffee shop, and due to Colorado’s Clean Indoor Air Act, smoking of any substance indoors is prohibited.
“We want to give a better name to the cannabis industry and be good for residents, too,” Tsalyuk said.
To gain approval from the city, the couple needed to gain approval from a neighborhood association – which they did by gaining sponsorship from La Alma-Lincoln Park Neighborhood Association. While getting to know the couple and their business plans, two members of the association were invited to tour the currently standing dispensary.
“They’ve shown us that they really want to be good neighbors,” said Lavizzo, a veterinarian who has had a clinic in the neighborhood for over 30 years.
The association sent their letter of support to the city, so after the application for The Coffee Shop is reviewed, there will be a month-long public review period expected sometime in the next two to three months. If all goes well, it will only be a few months until The Coffee Joint is the first place in Denver where people can consume cannabis socially.