Dean Ween Wants to Open America's First Legal Pot Music Venue in Denver

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Denver could get the nation's first legal pot-infused music venue, and it'd come with one helluva house band. A group working with alternative-rock star Dean Ween says that it will apply for a social cannabis consumption permit in Denver, which would be the first of its kind if approved.

Backers of Dean Ween's Honey Pot Lounge spoke of their plans at a Denver City Council meeting regarding the city's social consumption licensing program on Monday, November 19. They plan to apply within a month in hopes of licensing a pot-infused music venue at the Circus Collective, an alternative fitness and training center at 2041 Lawrence Street in the Ballpark neighborhood.

Honey Pot Lounge COO Michael Polansky says the Circus Collective would hold cannabis-infused wellness activities and education sessions during the day, with the Honey Pot Lounge taking over at night, Thursday through Sunday. "The meeting was kind of our coming-out party," he says.

Ween's representatives confirm that he plans to be a part of the new business. Also on the Honey Pot board is former Phish road manager Brad Sands.

Ween, who lives in Philadelphia, would serve as the leader of a rotating house band, Polansky says, bringing in various local artists to play different styles of music. The Ween frontman is known for his visual experimental style and playing a wide span of music genres in one show.

Pot-infused comedy shows and film screenings would also be part of the Honey Pot offerings.

"It's more of a concept than a location," Polanksy explains. "Dean is committed to come play when we want him, whenever he's not on tour. He's always loved Denver."

Shows would cost anywhere from $20 to $50, depending on the acts. The group is still mum on other musicians who would visit the venue but promises they'll be a mix of well-known and local artists. If approved by the city, the venue could allow vaporizing of concentrates and flower indoors, as well as edibles consumption. However, because of the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act, any smoking would have to take place in a private area outside.

The Denver Department of Excise and Licenses hadn't heard of the Honey Pot Lounge until Monday's meeting, according to communications director Eric Escudero, who says applicants for social use businesses typically reach out in advance to work with the city as they prepare their application.

Polansky says they'll be contacting the city soon, and it sounds like they'll be prepared. The Honey Pot group has hired consultants Emmet Reistroffer and Cindy Sovine, who helped draft Initiative 300, the voter-approved measure that created Denver's social consumption licensing program.

Per I-300 regulations, any social use business must get approval from its target location's neighborhood group or business organization. Polansky says Honey Pot's backers are still finalizing their business plan before reaching out to any Ballpark neighborhood organizations. He's also sure that Honey Pot will fit within I-300's location restrictions, which require that any social use business be at least 1,000 feet away from schools, child-care centers, drug or alcohol treatment facilities or city-owned parks or recreation centers.

Denver's much-maligned social consumption program has only allowed one business, the Coffee Joint, to open since the city began taking applications in 2017. Another business, Vape and Play, has received approval from the city and expects to be open early next year. Drafters of the initiative and hopeful entrepreneurs have criticized the program's location restrictions, which a city task force tightened after voters approved I-300. State regulations banning the sale of alcohol and cannabis products at any social use establishment have also hampered the program's success.

But because the Circus Collective already exists, the Honey Pot Lounge's backers didn't need to purchase or lease a new location — nor do they need to worry about additional revenue streams since they don't own the space, but would be using it several nights a week.

"It took us eight months to find this location. We were looking at the industrial district originally, because we thought there weren't other options," Polansky says. "But the bread and butter of this industry is accessibility."

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Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


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