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Denver approves hospitality licenses, allowing people to consume weed in some businesses

This new hospitality establishment license allows businesses in the city to let people legally consume cannabis on site.

DENVER — Get ready to start seeing more people smoking marijuana inside some of Denver's businesses. The city is approving a new hospitality establishment license so people can legally consume cannabis products on site. 

They started accepting applications in November, and approved the first license this month.

Before this year, people could consume marijuana legally outside their home if it was at a private social club operating on a membership. After overhauling its marijuana rules and regulations in 2021, Denver didn't allow private clubs to allow on-site consumption anymore. The city now requires a license to do that.

On Monday, the city approved a license for an existing private club in Rino called Tetra Lounge, pending successful completion of required inspections. Its owner, Dewayne Benjamin, hopes to open a consumption lounge before 4/20. 

Tetra Lounge has operated as a private social club over the past few years, but the business had to close after the new licensing mandate went into effect in Denver. The business became the first social equity applicant in Denver approved for a hospitality establishment license, pending inspections.

Denver is solely focused on social equity applicants for this licensing to make the industry more diverse and accessible. Tetra Lounge will now be designated as a legal and safe place to consume marijuana in Denver.

"Getting the license really gives us the foundation to grow and keep establishing new experiences within the cannabis hospitality realm," said Benjamin. "There's still a lot of financial aspects that kind of hinder a lot of businesses, but having the opportunity and the input into the industry I think is going to be very beneficial especially with new markets."

Benjamin will keep his same business model and charge patrons with a membership fee: $20 for a daily membership, $50 for a month and $350 for a year. His location will be open for locals and visitors. 

"If you are only here for a day you are welcomed to stop in to the daily membership and that will give you access to the full day," he said. 

When Tetra Lounge completes the required inspections, they will become the second operating hospitality establishment in Denver, joining the Coffee Joint. 

Coffee Joint transitioned from an old cannabis license last week to a hospitality establishment license. The business didn't have to meet the social equity exclusivity rules, because under Denver law, all licensed cannabis consumption license holders were allowed to go go into the new hospitality establishment program once their old license expired.

Under the old license, Coffee Joint couldn't allow smoking indoors. They can allow smoking with the new hospitality establishment license, but the owner said they don't have plans to switch over. For now, they will only allow vaping and edibles.

Two social equity hospitality applications are still pending. 

One is for a marijuana lounge at a hotel in Denver called the Patterson Inn. The second business, called the Denver Weed Lounge, is applying for a hospitality and sales establishment. This would be the first business in Denver where people can go buy marijuana and consume it at that business.

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