Business

Denver Approves First Hotel for Marijuana Hospitality

Denver has approved the city's first hotel for social marijuana consumption.

The Patterson Inn has become the first hotel in Colorado — and possibly the country — to be licensed for marijuana consumption at the city and state level.

Colorado legalized recreational marijuana use in 2012, but the legislature didn't legalize social pot consumption venues at the state level until 2019, and local governments must opt in before a business can operate. Denver voters legalized social marijuana use in 2016, but the city's pot hospitality program banned indoor smoking until last year, when Denver City Council adopted new rules regarding pot hospitality.

The Patterson, a boutique hotel located at 420 East 11th Avenue in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, was the first applicant under Denver's new pot hospitality program. A city hearing officer gave the hotel's application a favorable recommendation earlier this month.

Owner Chris Chiari is working with a Philadelphia-based architectural firm to create a steampunk-inspired marijuana parlor for hotel guests and their visitors. Smoking would be allowed in the closed-off lounge, but not in the hotel's nine suites, according to Chiari, nor would marijuana products be for sale at the hotel.

"Cannabis hospitality has trailed legalization by eight years here in Colorado. I hope this first is just the start of a healthy and mature national market where the possession of, and consumption of, cannabis is destigmatized and normalized," Chiari says. "It’s been a long time coming, and there is a lot of work to do, but for today there is reason to take a pause and celebrate this milestone."

The Patterson already has already received a marijuana hospitality permit from the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division. Now Chiari must finish renovating his new lounge and pass zoning and air filtration inspections from the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses before opening for business.

The Patterson is the second business to receive a marijuana hospitality license under Denver's new licensing program, and the third business overall. Tetra Lounge, a marijuana-friendly lounge in RiNo, was approved by Excise and Licenses earlier this week for pot hospitality, while Denver's first licensed pot lounge, the Coffee Joint, was grandfathered into the city's new hospitality rules last year, but only allows vaping and edibles consumption.