Glendale Wants to Open State's First Licensed Marijuana Tasting Room

Smokin Gun Apothecary wants to convert a retail space into a tasting room.
Lucy Beaugard
Smokin Gun Apothecary wants to convert a retail space into a tasting room.
You could soon be able to burn legal weed and get a lap dance in the same complex, if a Glendale dispensary's plans for a social marijuana consumption venue are realized.

Smokin Gun Apothecary, a Western-themed pot shop next to Shotgun Willie's strip club, hopes to become the first dispensary in the state with a tasting room for social weed consumption, and the owners want it ready by every stoner's favorite holiday. The store plans to open the social use space, named the Joint, on site by April 20: 4/20.

If the Smokin Gun's application for the Joint (not to be confused with the Denver dispensary named the Joint, which also has plans for a licensed social pot venue) is approved by the state Marijuana Enforcement Division, the tasting room could be the first of its kind under Colorado's new marijuana hospitality law, which allows restaurants, hotels, music venues and other businesses to apply for social pot-use permits and dispensaries to apply for tasting-room licenses similar to those used for breweries. The Smokin Gun plans to apply to the MED for a tasting-room license on Friday, February 7, according to ownership.

When we interviewed Smokin Gun co-owner Deborah Dunafon (who also owns Shotgun Willie's) last year as the hospitality bill was moving through the state legislature, she noted that Glendale is "not opposed to public consumption," but added that it was "incumbent on the marijuana entrepreneur to secure a suitable venue."

click to enlarge Glendale Mayor Mike Dunafon is married to Deborah Dunafon, co-owner of Smokin Gun Apothecary. - JACQUELINE COLLINS
Glendale Mayor Mike Dunafon is married to Deborah Dunafon, co-owner of Smokin Gun Apothecary.
Jacqueline Collins
Instead of trying to find new real estate where she could build a venue, Dunafon decided to add on to the spot she already owns. According to the Smokin Gun, the Joint will replace an open space in the dispensary's current retail area, creating an area where customers can lounge in a mock jail cell and try different marijuana strains, concentrates and edibles.

Towns and counties must officially opt in to the new hospitality law in order for social consumption establishments to open within their limits. But Glendale's mayor, Mike Dunafon, has been a vocal proponent of marijuana rights, and happens to be married to Deborah Dunafon.

“On behalf of the City of Glendale, we are thrilled to have the first cannabis flower tasting room in Colorado within Smokin Gun,” Mike Dunafon says in a statement announcing the Joint. “We’ve come a long way from the Prohibition era, and offering a private, controlled space to try different strains of cannabis is another step in the right direction toward ending the War on Drugs."

Chuck Line, Glendale's deputy city manager, says that the Glendale City Council has already discussed adopting a social consumption ordinance, with a public hearing set for March 3; Mayor Dunafon and councilwoman Lindsey Mintz, a co-owner of the Smokin Gun, have recused themselves from the vote.

If approved as currently written, the ordinance would allow smoking inside the tasting rooms, but those rooms would have to be in an enclosed area with proper ventilation. Only dispensaries could apply for a social consumption license in Glendale, Line says; restaurants, hotels, mobile lounges or other businesses would not be eligible. "We're going to allow smoking. You have to have a segregated HVAC area so smoke doesn't get outside of the hospitality area, and some type of smoke-elimination system," he adds.

At least two other cities, Denver and Colorado Springs, already have licensed social consumption venues, but none of them are dispensary tasting rooms, and both towns had already licensed the businesses under their own local ordinances years before the new state law passed. Under that law, locally licensed social consumption businesses must receive state licenses within a year of opening in order to continue operating.

Applying for a state license is likely to require more steps for the Smokin Gun ownership, according to Line.  "They still have to figure out the state application," he explains. "Our ordinance is four pages, and the state rules are, like, sixty."

Update: This article was updated at noon February 5, to reflect statements from Glendale Deputy City Manager Chuck Line.