Denver hotel to open cannabis lounge in 2022 – The Burlington Record
Weed has long been a social substance – after all, it takes someone to pass dutch on the left side. But due to laws restricting public consumption, there are very few places smokers can go to consume it socially the way they do in a bar.
Denver regulators and entrepreneurs are hoping that will change soon, however, since the city recently legalized hospitality cannabis businesses. In November, the city began accepting applications from people wanting to open Amsterdam-style smoking lounges and gathering places, or organize bus tours where consumers can consume cannabis.
So far, only one person has filed a claim, according to Eric Escudero, communications director for the Denver Department of Excise and Licensing. That person is Chris Chiari, owner of the Capitol Hill The Patterson Inn Bed and Breakfast.
Chiari is familiar with the cannabis industry, currently being deputy director of the Colorado branch of the National Organization for Marijuana Law Reform (NORML) and having previously invested in a local dispensary. He also co-produced a documentary with rapper and actor Ice-T entitled “Public Enemy Number One”, which explores the militarization of marijuana by the United States against communities of color.
Chiari first dreamed of turning The Patterson Inn into a cannabis-friendly space about a decade ago when she passed by and saw the address: 420 E. 11th Ave. The property ended up selling to other buyers, but when it returned to the market in 2018 Chiari jumped at the chance to buy it.
âWhat I was envisioning then and working on today,â he said, âis to combine four-star boutique hospitality with hospitality and the use of legally licensed cannabis.â
If a license is approved, Chiari plans to turn the 1,000-square-foot hotel shed into a smoking room for guests, who will be able to bring their own marijuana and use pipes, papers and bongs provided by the facility to to please yourself. The lounge, which is slated to open by mid-2022, will serve an organized menu of alcohol-free cocktails designed to complement certain strains, he said.
Guests will pay an entrance fee – likely $ 4.20 per day – to access the lounge, and Chiari plans to sell subscriptions to locals who also want to be able to consume there.
Smoking will not be allowed in hotel rooms due to laws that require specific ventilation for smoking areas and because this could prevent the on-site restaurant from serving alcohol, Chiari said. It will also help maintain the integrity of the 19th century Victorian structure, he said.
Although The Patterson Inn is the first – and so far the only – company to apply for a cannabis hospitality license, Escudero and the city are hopeful more will come. Dewayne Benjamin, owner of Tetra Lounge at RiNo, told the Denver Post that he plans to apply.
Tetra Lounge, which opened in 2018, is currently one of the few places in Denver where cannabis enthusiasts can consume publicly. It closed for 14 months from March 2020 in response to the pandemic, during which time Benjamin remodeled and updated the ventilation system to meet new COVID-19 standards. The show reopened before April 20, 2021.
Tetra Lounge operates as a private consumer lounge, and although visitors will not notice any changes at the club when it changes licenses – Tetra will still require an entry fee at the door and allow smokers to buy or bring glassware to use – Benjamin sees the hotel license as validation of his business model.
âIt’s really exciting for me to have finally built a model that can legitimize the hospitality of cannabis,â said Benjamin. âWorking under the private club model over the past two years presents its own obstacles [when] trying to establish not only a cannabis club, but a consumer marketing platform for cannabis companies, dealing with compliance issues and not having this legitimate status behind my business model. This will give me a lot more opportunities to work and develop other brands within my sector.
The license change will also set Tetra Lounge for future success, he said, making sure it can grow seamlessly, possibly into future locations. Chiari is also aiming for expansion with hopes of opening 420 friendly hotels in cities such as Washington, DC, New York, Boston, Chicago and New Orleans, as well as ski resorts such as Breckenridge and Steamboat.
The two believe that more places where people can legally smoke weed in public will usher in a new, long-awaited era of normalization.
âHospitality has been one of the biggest missing pieces in the industry for a long time,â said Benjamin. âCannabis is one of Denver’s main tourist draws. You can buy weed on every corner, but you literally can’t smoke it anywhere. You cannot smoke in your hotel, cannot smoke in your car, cannot smoke in a park. This is going to be one of the solid things to move the industry forward and to advance what it can really be. “
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