One of the metro area's longest-running cannabis lounges has announced that it will close for good at the end of the year. In a video posted on the YouTube page of iBake Denver on November 6, owners Thurlow Weed and LittleTree Oppy announced that upcoming state marijuana hospitality laws will force them to close the lounge's doors by 2020.
The state legislature legalized social pot use lounges this year. But that law is the reason iBake has to close, according to owners. We were unable to reach iBake for comment, but Weed and Oppy go into detail about the closure in their YouTube video.
"These new rules are making it so the [state] Marijuana Enforcement Division will now be overseeing cannabis clubs and the licensing of cannabis clubs, along with the individual counties and municipalities that choose to adopt these rules," Weed said. "We wanted to create a legal spot for people to come and consume cannabis, whether they were locals or whether they were from out of state, in a fun safe, environment — and we've done it."
The new law allowing marijuana-hospitable businesses requires both state and local approval, and Weed said he doesn't think iBake can attain both. The club is located just outside of Denver in unincorporated Adams County, and Weed argued that Adams County won't adopt language permitting social use establishments any time soon. He said he's worried the club will face legal action from local law enforcement or the MED.
The lounge operates as a members-only club that allows pot use indoors for any registered users 21 and older. That model, although frowned upon by several local law enforcement and government entities, has been successful in Adams County. But once the new state law goes into effect at the start of 2020, the state and Adams County will have more ammunition if they want to crack down on businesses such as iBake.
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"We don't feel that we would be able to provide the security to our members that we've been able to provide over the last several years," Weed continued in the video. "This is not something that we want to do. This is not something that we foresaw."
Weed said he hoped iBake would get at least one year to receive local approval and comply with the state regulations, but his lawyers don't think Adams County officials would let that happen.
Denver and Colorado Springs are the only local governments that license cannabis lounges, although more municipalities are expected to address the issue in 2020 once the hospitality law takes effect. The law would allow dispensaries, restaurants, hotels, yoga studios and other businesses to apply for a social pot consumption license, but only if their respective towns or counties approve such language. Local governments could also prohibit other rules of the state's social use program, such as smoking indoors and micro-sales.
December 31 will be iBake's last day, Weed said, adding that the club will go out with a bang on New Year's Eve. "It's going to kind of be the last celebration of iBake Denver," he explained.
This will be the second time an iBake has left, but the situations were a bit different. In 2016, iBake ended its run in Englewood, eventually turning into another club by the name of Studio 420, which also ended up residing in Adams County. Adams County officials also attempted to push out iBake in 2016, but ultimately failed.
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With the upcoming law giving their detractors more fuel, Weed and Oppy said it's time to move on.
"That's kind of what happens when new laws and regulations are made.... We usually find that the founders of that industry are usually regulated right out of that business, and a new wave of businesses come in," Oppy said. "We're also very happy knowing that future cannabis consumption businesses won't have to go through all the struggles and bullshit we went through."
Find iBake's goodbye video below.