Social marijuana use reform is an area of cannabis activism that I have kept a close eye on for a few years now. It’s a great example of how cannabis reform efforts do not stop after a successful legalization vote is achieved at the state level. As I always say, until social use reform is implemented, cannabis will never truly be regulated like alcohol, which is a mandate that voters in several states have approved at the ballot box.
Denver, Colorado voters approved a social marijuana use initiative in 2016 which called for the creation of a regulatory framework for social use in the city. It has been a long time coming in Denver but the city has finally approved its first social marijuana use license, which is a very big milestone for the overall social use reform effort. Per The Denver Post:
The Coffee Joint soon can allow customers age 21 or older to vape or consume edibles they bring to the cafe, which is already open at 1130 Yuma Court, just east of Interstate 25 in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. But the shop will not allow any smoking, which is allowed only outdoors under state law, and can’t sell any marijuana products on site.
The owners of the shop, which has ownership ties to a dispensary next door, had been expecting official approval after a public license hearing Feb. 9 drew no opposition. Now co-owner Rita Tsalyuk is eager to allow consumption sometime in the next couple weeks, pending building and safety inspections, along with a schedule of yoga classes and educational and art events.
The Coffee Joint is being touted in media articles as being the ‘first in the nation’ to permit social cannabis use, which is a claim that is somewhat true and somewhat misleading. Technically social cannabis use is already permitted at some dispensaries in Oakland, with Magnolia Wellness being the first that comes to mind. Social use establishments can be found all over legal states, but as far as I know, none of them are licensed by their local municipalities and operate in a ‘legal grey area’ (at best!).
But the licensing of The Coffee Joint is different, and therefore unique, in that it is not a dispensary itself, and involves a business model that is focused on a non-cannabis model that also allows cannabis consumption on the premises. It may not seem like a really big deal to some, but it is a really big deal to me personally. Hopefully, now that the first license has been issued there will be a wave of others, regulators in other states will see how well the system works and that the sky is still intact, and social cannabis use reform will spread.