Both social consumption businesses found themselves struggling for different reasons earlier this year. A month after it finally opened (and over a year after it first started working to attain a social pot use license), Vape and Play suddenly closed in early March. Meanwhile, Honey Pot Lounge had to withdraw its special cannabis event applications with the city after the owner of the location where it had proposed holding those events objected to the plans.
For Honey Pot Lounge's owners, who have the backing of alt-rock icon Dean Ween and ideas for pot-friendly entertainment events but nowhere to hold them, the recently closed Vape and Play's consumption license presented a golden opportunity. On Friday, April 5, Vape and Play will reopen as Dean Ween’s Honeypot Lounge at Vape and Play, according to Honey Pot Lounge COO Michael Polanksy.
And the Deaner is expected to be there.
“Having traveled (and basically resided) in clubs, bars and lounges for the past thirty years, I've always wanted to start my own club — a place that specifically caters to my personal tastes, and a public hangout space designed in my model,” Ween says in a statement. “The HPL will be a geographic extension of my living room, my studio and my man-cave. Being a man of impeccable tastes, I feel positive that it will serve your entertainment needs as well and make for a great hang."
The April 5 opening will be for members and invitees only; Honey Pot Lounge will open to the public on April 6, with pot-friendly music shows, film screenings, stand-up comedy acts and Saturday morning cartoons all slated to be part of the entertainment lineup. Ween is expected to appear at the venue throughout the year, with old touring friends and local musicians. Daily and weekly passes will be available at the door, with monthly Honey Pot Lounge memberships offered for those who want to attend the private party on April 5.
Social pot consumption licenses aren't transferable, so Vape and Play will continue to hold the license and retain management operations, according to Polansky, with Honey Pot Lounge brought in on a contractual basis to run Vape and Play's entertainment and programming. As a licensed indoor social pot use establishment in Denver, Dean Ween's Honey Pot Lounge at Vape and Play can allow only vaping and edibles consumption, but not smoking. However, the vape bar will remain in the venue. "We believe that the space is perfect for intimate performances, local talent, and special events," Polansky says.
Honey Pot Lounge originally planned to get its own social consumption license and open inside the Circus Collective, an alternative training center in the Ballpark neighborhood, but ran afoul of Denver's location requirements that ban any consumption space within 1,000 feet of schools, child-care centers, drug or alcohol treatment facilities or city-owned parks or recreation centers. The group then applied to host a series of pot-friendly events in a commercial parking lot downtown, but had to rescind the applications after the lot's owners objected.
Vape and Play, the second licensed social consumption business to open in Denver, had closed earlier this month with little explanation. Vape and Play owner Taylor Rosean confirms that the venue has partnered with Honey Pot Lounge, but declines to comment further.
Denver Department of Excises and Licenses communications director Eric Ecudero says he doesn't know the specifics of any agreement between the two businesses, but explains that it's legal for a social consumption business to hire an outside entity for event promotion, as long as any new managers pass background checks with the city thirty days prior to working. "[Vape and Play] worked really hard to get this license. They took care of the requirements. Just like any business we issue a license to, we want to see them succeed," he adds.
Although it's been accepting applications since mid-2017, Denver's social consumption program has issued only two licenses, and currently only the first licensee, the Coffee Joint, is open. A company converting large shipping containers into mobile consumption units recently applied for several special cannabis events permits, though.
Denver City Council is currently considering altering the location requirements to allow for more social consumption establishments, and a bill introduced in the Colorado Legislature last week would allow dispensary tasting rooms and social consumption areas in hotels, music venues, restaurants and other business. The measure's first hearing is set for Wednesday, March 27.
Are the tides for social consumption finally starting to turn, or is that just a pre-4/20 haze clouding our judgment?