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Denver could approve first business where people can buy and consume weed on site

Josh Horwitz is the first applicant for the city's new marijuana hospitality and sales license.

DENVER — Soon, there could be a business in Denver where you can buy and smoke weed in the same place. It would be the first of its kind in the city because of a new marijuana hospitality and sales license.

Josh Horwitz is the first to apply for this kind of license. He's now waiting on the Excise and Licenses executive director to make a final decision on approval. 

State law changed to allow Denver to opt in to hospitality and sales establishments, where people can go to a business and buy and consume cannabis on site.

South Broadway is a a place where people can buy a joint as easily as a beer. It is so easy to find weed there, but finding a legal place to smoke it can be challenging.

Horwitz wants to change that. 

He hopes to open up a modern coffee shop on South Broadway called "Cloud 9" where people can drink coffee, eat a pastry, and buy and consume cannabis on site. In one portion of the business, Horwitz said customers would be able to buy a variety of marijuana products like joints and edibles. People wouldn't have to go elsewhere to consume it because of his license. 

"I am always looking an opportunity that would be fun to do and this stemming from my father," said Horwitz.

According to Horwitz, his father Steve opened Ganja Gourmet in 2009 on South Broadway as a marijuana restaurant where people could eat food that was infused with marijuana. His dad had to eventually close that part of the business and turn it into a dispensary. 

"Within a year they made on site consumption illegal so my dad had to shut that side of the business down," said Horwitz. "He was so passionate about having fun with marijuana because he had been a foodie his whole entire life. Being a foodie and getting high was his favorite thing to do."

Opening up a business where people can legally buy and consume marijuana was his father's dream. The city is trying to make that dream easier to reach for everyone. 

Right now the marijuana hospitality license is only available to social equity applicants in an effort to make the industry more diverse and accessible. 

Horwitz said police arrested his father years ago for a marijuana offense. The criminal charge is one criteria to apply for this license. Now it could help Horwitz open a business his father always wanted to run. 

"I remember how upset and how much that affected our family," he said. "I wish he knew it came to a plus where I am able to use that arrest to pursue his dream which means a lot to me as well."

There are hearings scheduled on May 11 and May 12 for neighbors to share how they feel about this type of business in their area. A hearing officer will take evidence and hear testimony at the public hearing and then issue a recommended decision. That recommendation will be reviewed by the Excise and Licenses executive director, who will issue a final decision.

There's also a marijuana hospitality establishment license that allows businesses to let people consume cannabis on site but not purchase. The city has granted approval for licenses of two social equity applicants pending inspection.

RELATED: Denver hotel gets conditional approval for marijuana lounge

RELATED: Denver residents can expect to get weed delivered to front door within next few weeks


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