In November, one of Colorado's longest-running cannabis clubs, iBake, announced that it would close by the start of 2020 because of a new state law that legalizes and regulates businesses allowing social pot use. But now iBake's owners have decided they aren't ready to call it quits, saying that their lawyer uncovered new information that will keep the club open for at least another month, if not longer.
According to iBake owners Thurlow "T.L." Weed and LittleTree Oppy, under the new law, the state Marijuana Enforcement Division has a year to receive local approval for the club from Adams County, where it currently resides. Before the MED released its official social-use permitting rules, Weed and Oppy thought they'd have to get approval from Adams County before it could get the okay from the MED. Instead, it apparently has a year to get both.
"Our lawyer called, and she started the conversation saying that we shouldn't close in January," Weed explains. "We're kind of happy and we're kind of frustrated. As far as giving us more of a financial cushion, though, that helps."
Weed and Oppy didn't think they could get Adams County to approve their cannabis club — which has been operating as an unlicensed, members-only club since opening in 2013 — for a local permit before 2020. Like the vast majority of municipal governments in Colorado, the Adams County commissioners haven't yet addressed social pot use, leaving iBake to operate with little interference from law enforcement.
According to Weed and Oppy, they're going to keep the club open until Adams County says officially that it doesn't approve of the business. But they're not bullish on their chances.
"There's no rules yet in Adams County, so there's nothing they can enforce. Until they have some sort of rules written out, there's nothing they can really do," Weed says. He and Oppy don't believe Adams County commissioners will visit the topic for "at least a few months," he adds.
"Adams County can have a hearing and decide to pass some rules," Weed explains. "But I believe that somewhere in there, they'd have to give us some sort of time, whether it's thirty days or the beginning of the next fiscal year, to close."
Until last week, both Weed and Oppy were operating under the assumption that they'd need new jobs by the start of 2020, and they're continuing to explore new career paths. While they plan to keep the club open for the foreseeable future, Oppy says that they're looking for a partner interested in attaining a social consumption license from the MED.
"We're already going to continue operating until Adams County tells us to shut down," she says. "If they give us three, six, nine or twelve months [to stay open], we'd be open to partnering, and licensing this location."
Although Colorado has allowed recreational cannabis sales since 2014, the state didn't address social cannabis use until this year, when the Colorado General Assembly approved a bill that allows qualified businesses to apply for pot consumption areas, including marijuana dispensaries, hotels, restaurants, art galleries, yoga studios and more. Now dispensaries can apply for tasting rooms; tour buses and limousines can apply for mobile use licenses; and businesses such as hotels or art galleries can apply for private consumption licenses — but no alcohol sales will be allowed at any of these businesses.
The MED began accepting applications for such businesses in mid-December; so far, two pot lounges have applied: the Coffee Joint in Denver and Studio A64 in Colorado Springs, both of which already have the okay of their local governments.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.