Denver businesses could be opening their doors to cannabis consumers as early as the spring (perhaps by 4/20), according to industry leaders who have been busy planning their next steps since the passing of Initiated Ordinance 300 (I-300) earlier this month. 

“One thing I’m working on with some of my colleagues is the idea of a restaurant,” Michael Eymer, founder of Colorado Cannabis Tours, told Civilized. “It will be the first restaurant where you’ll be able to sit down and enjoy a meal and imbibe cannabis at the same time.”

I-300, also known as the Neighborhood-Supported Cannabis Consumption Pilot Program (NSCCPP), will allow regular Denver businesses to offer indoor or outdoor cannabis consumption to patrons. Businesses will be granted permits for the service under certain conditions, foremost of which is that they first receive approval from a neighborhood group.

On top of that, it was recently announced that businesses with liquor licenses can’t apply for a cannabis consumption permit. It’s a roadblock that Eymer isn’t letting get in the way of the restaurant plans he calls “very new, very early, but very real.”

Eymer said his restaurant, which he aims to have open by 4/20 of 2017, won’t just offer patrons the option of openly consuming cannabis. It will also offer infused meals as well as the option to “vape and hit a rig at the bar.”

He has to figure out a way to do that without violating a clause in the initiative that does that not allow a business to "directly or indirectly sell, provide, transfer, or distribute cannabis within or around a designated consumption area, unless otherwise permitted by state law."

“We have a good number of angles to monetize this thing, which will be tough since we can’t sell alcohol or weed,” Eymer told Civilized. “There are some clever things we’ve had to figure out.” 

His goal is to provide a more affordable and accessible experience than the one offered through his company Colorado Cannabis Tours, which gives tourists a “behind the scenes look at Denver’s legal cannabis industry, from grow house tours to glass blowing demonstrations” for $99.

“In reviews from our customers, hands down what they enjoyed the most was socially consuming on the bus with strangers,” said Eymer. “I want to continue showing people how easy it is and how normal it is to socially consume cannabis.”

For Heidi Keyes, I-300 will allow for the increasing “legitimization” of Denver’s cannabis tourism industry – including her own venture. Keyes is the co-founder of Puff, Pass & Paint, whose cannabis-friendly painting classes have had to be held at residential properties until now. 

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Photography: Amarett Jan

“There are so many people coming to Denver to use cannabis… and then they don’t know where they’re supposed to use it,” said Keyes. “What I-300 is going to allow us to do is have more of a professional storefront, something that isn’t just a residentially owned house, where we could hold our classes [and consume cannabis]… it’s going to keep Denver competitive and [make the industry] even more legitimate.”

Stacey Mulvey, whose company, Marijuasana, offers cannabis-friendly yoga classes, thinks I-300 will mean one thing for her customers: a “richer” overall experience. Until now, Marijuasana yogis have only been allowed to consume CBD (cannabis sans THC) during classes.

“I’m so excited that I now have the opportunity to apply for a permit and [be able to] allow for THC consumption right alongside the CBD we’ve been consuming,” Mulvey told Civilized.

“When people are able to go to a restaurant or a coffee shop or a yoga studio and have the freedom to consume cannabis, I think for them it will legitimize the fact that this is [no longer] underground, they’re not in somebody’s basement. This is a business and we’ve gone through the proper channels – through our neighborhoods, through our communities, through our city – to be able to allow supervised consumption of cannabis.”

All three business owners plan to engage with neighborhood groups in coming weeks and months. 

Banner image: Amarett Jan Photography