Studio420, an Englewood marijuana club, has been ordered to shut down following an administrative hearing. The business is planning to appeal the latest negative ruling in a years-long fight with the city that dates back to a time when it was called iBake Englewood and fronted by an entrepreneur who calls himself Thurlow Weed.
We first introduced you to Weed in the May 2015 post "iBake Denver's Key to Success as a Pot Club Is Staying Out of Denver — for Now." At the time, Weed said iBake Denver's ability to operate in plain sight during a period when the City of Denver was cracking down on pot clubs such as Grassroots Colorado was because of the location of the business — just over the Adams County line. This strategy wasn't foolproof; a year later, Adams County tried to shutter iBake Denver. But as indicated by the iBake Denver Facebook page, which is still extremely active, these efforts haven't been successful thus far.
The dispute over iBake Englewood, which opened in 2015, has been just as heated. In June 2016, Englewood voted to ban pot clubs, and iBake Englewood was targeted based in part on a claim of false representation. The original business application for the store maintained that it would specialize in selling "hats, shirts, photographs, cigarettes, pipes, other forms of tobacco (i.e. chewing, e-cigs, etc.)."
"We're kind of like a Costco membership pipe-and-tobacco shop," Weed told us during a previous interview.
This explanation didn't impress acting Englewood city attorney Dugan Comer, who highlighted the "hats, shirts" section of the business application in a 2015 city council memo. He emphasized that "nowhere on the license does it indicate that they were operating as a social club, or as a social club for the consumption of marijuana by the general public. In fact, when asked if they offered any other type of services, the answer was no or not applicable."
The memo went on to point out that when Englewood moves to take action against a licensed business, it must follow revocation procedures that include a provisional order to comply and an opportunity for the owner to request a hearing and appeal to the city manager if the decision goes against him or her. That happened last December, when Englewood issued a cease-and-desist order; it's among the documents accessible below.
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By the following June, when the hearing took place, iBake Englewood had switched its name to Studio420 following the departure of Weed; prior to that time, a source tells us, Weed split with current owners Marty and Craig Fuchs. But this alteration didn't change the minds of the hearing officer, who ordered Studio420's closure last month.
The club, located at 3995 South Broadway, has announced plans to appeal this ruling to Englewood's city manager per the procedure mentioned above. In the meantime, it's continuing to operate as if the future isn't in doubt. On August 20, Studio420 plans to host the third annual Marty's Party, and there's even a Facebook events page for a Thanksgiving celebration on November 23.
Whether it will still be called Studio420 is another question. We hear that a local advertising firm named Studio 420 Cannabis Friendly Creative Agency is mulling legal action to get the joint to change its moniker yet again.
What a long, strange trip it's been — and it's not over yet. Click to read the iBake Englewood sales and use tax license application, the Studio420 cease-and-desist order and the Studio420 appeal ruling.