Denver Cannabis Consumption – “I-300” and The Coffee Joint

The Neighborhood-Supported Cannabis Consumption Pilot Program Initiative (“I-300”) is the first of its kind in the United States. I-300 creates a legal framework for responsible social use of cannabis. Colorado state law doesn’t address cannabis consumption clubs, but bans public use, including outdoors. In some cities, unregulated clubs are tolerated, while others operate secretly. Denver voters approved I-300 in a 2016 ballot measure, but it took nine months for the city to start accepting applications. Now, nearly 6 months after the first application was submitted, The Coffee Joint is poised to be the country’s first lawful cannabis consumption club.

Following a public hearing on February 9, 2018, the Denver City Attorney recommended that the city approve The Coffee Joint as a licensed social club. The final decision rests with the director of the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses, who may take weeks or even months to issue a final decision.

Licensed I-300 premises are not allowed to sell or give away cannabis. The owners of The Coffee Joint plan to allow on-site vaping and consumption of edibles in the 21-and-over business at 1130 Yuma Court, just east of Interstate 25. The Coffee Joint will charge a $5 admission fee that includes basic coffee and tea offerings and will offer premium drinks and packaged food for sale along with board games, retail items for sale, art, and music. The business is open, but is only selling coffee and pre-packaged snacks for now.

At the hearing, city officials had The Coffee Joint emphasize how the business will: (a) train employees to prevent anyone underage from entering; (b) stop customers from unlawfully distributing marijuana; and (c) respond if a customer has over-consumed. The Coffee Joint faced no public opposition to its application.

Denver has received one additional I-300 application to date, from a McAllister Garfield client. City officials expect more applications in the near future.