Denver issues ticket, warning letters to unlicensed Cannabis hospitality businesses
On Saturday, the city investigated multiple locations after receiving complaints of illegal activity.
Eight businesses have recently received warnings for hosting marijuana-related activities in Denver without the required license, with a separate ticket issued to Tetra Lounge.
On Saturday, the city investigated multiple locations after receiving complaints of illegal events taking place, said Eric Escudero, spokesperson for Denver Department Of Excise And Licenses. Officials issued a general violation ticket to the operator of Tetra Lounge at 3039 Walnut St. “for necessity of a license to operate,” he added.
Tetra Lounge didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Escudero declined to comment further on that specific case, as it’s being handled by the Denver City Attorney’s Office as a criminal matter. Spokesperson Melissa Sisneros declined to comment on pending litigation.
The businesses that received warning letters in June and July, urging them to apply for a license, include:
- Ant Life
- Meta Talent Group
- Marijuana Mansion
- Psychedelic Club of Denver
- NORML Denver
- The Vape Loft
- Rooted Heart Yoga Studio
- Clubhouse Collective
According to the allegations, Ant Life and Meta Talent Group hosted an event called “Summer of Love.” Jacob Lemanski, owner and artist at psychedelic art gallery Ant Life, said his establishment operates as a venue, not as a marijuana business specifically, “but, doing private events, we were allowing people to smoke cannabis in this space.”
His business doesn’t qualify for a license because of its proximity to a rehabilitation center, he said in an interview on Monday.
“The hoops you have to jump through, and the costs of getting up and running as a cannabis lounge, is just prohibitive,” Lemanski said. “I don’t think a business owner could see making their money back in that situation. It’s too hard to do.”
The Marijuana Mansion at 1244 Grant St. held Stoner Cinema screenings, according to a Westword article published on June 16. The other alleged events include the Psychedelic Club of Denver’s Mindful Marketplace and Castle Bash, NORML Denver’s Dinner at the Marijuana Mansion, the Vape Loft’s Safe Sesh and Rooted Heart Yoga Studio’s Cannabath, Elevated Yoga and Canna Soul.
“We didn’t even know we were in violation, to be honest,” said Nikki Hazamy, owner of Rooted Heart Yoga Studio, in an interview. She considered the events private, but has since canceled them.
“It’s very vague – what you can and can’t do with cannabis,” she said.
When it comes to securing the appropriate license, “it’s extremely expensive, especially for something like yoga, where we’re not making money off the sale of cannabis – it’s the use of cannabis.”
She estimates it would cost thousands of dollars to complete the process, and has considered setting up a GoFundMe.
Clayton Kelley of the Vape Loft declined to comment. The other business operators didn’t respond to a request for comment.
The businesses are subject to enforcement action if they run marijuana hospitality establishments without a license. The hospitality license types consist of one for a marijuana hospitality business, another for a marijuana hospitality business with a mobile premises and a third for a marijuana hospitality and sales business.
Patrons must be the age of 21 or older, and the businesses can only operate between the hours of 7 a.m. and 2 a.m.
“Citations, fines and enforcement activity by the City and County of Denver are always a last resort after every effort has been made to educate businesses about licensing rules and regulations,” Escudero wrote in an email Monday. “If a marijuana business is conducting commerce, there is a requirement for licensing.”
According to his department, “only social equity applicants are eligible to apply for marijuana hospitality licenses until July 1, 2027.” Social equity applicants are defined as Colorado residents from disadvantaged backgrounds or with relatives hurt by the criminalization of marijuana.
“Allowing unlicensed businesses to operate presents a health, safety and welfare threat to the community and hurts social equity businesses that have taken on the effort and expense to get a license and legally operate in Denver,” Escudero said. “They should not have to compete against illegal competition.”