Last week, we told you about the battle being waged by Denver pot club Grassroots Colorado, which has been targeted with prosecution by the City of Denver, as well as an eviction the business' attorney traces to pressure officials have placed on its landlord.
In the meantime, however, a pot club called iBake Denver continues to operate in plain sight more than two years after its grand opening, and plans are in motion to open a new location in the metro area.
How is iBake Denver able to do so? The project's co-owner, who goes by the nom de plume Thurlow Weed, believes a number of factors are involved, but an important one involves the decision to stay just outside the Denver city limits.
"We've specifically not gone into Denver proper, because Denver has been quite strict about letting people know it's not something they currently want in their city," Weed says.
Yet Weed feels this policy needs to change, and he hopes iBake Denver can be part of nudging the city in what he sees as a more positive direction.
The roots of iBake Denver can be traced it iBake Radio, an Internet radio station Weed launched several years ago. Then, shortly after the November 2012 passage of Amendment 64, the measure that legalized limited recreational marijuana sales in Colorado, he decided to expand the operation to include a place where cannabis lovers could get together to consume.
Hence the February 15, 2013 launch of iBake Denver. But despite its name, the business' location, at 6125 Washington Street, isn't in Denver. Rather, the club is just beyond the Denver County line in Adams County.
The club is still in operation, and while Weed declines to get specific about its specific approach to remaining on the right side of the law, he offers a few insights into iBake Denver's practices. The club sells memberships for $10 per month, with an additional $2 membership fee for each visit during that month.
Otherwise, he stresses that "iBake Denver has successfully stayed open for two years in part by following all of Colorado's rules and regulations — especially when it comes to the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act."
Not that there haven't been a few bumps in the road.
"The Adams County Sheriff's Office and the paramedics have been here a couple of times," Weed allows. "One involved a lady who was supposed to be on a medication, but she stopped taking it, and she had a seizure while she was at the club. She hadn't consumed much cannabis, but we called the paramedics, and the deputies came, too. But after they asked her if she'd purchased anything from us and she said no, since we don't sell anything, they left without any problem.
"Another time, a tourist had purchased a 100 mg edible from a dispensary and consumed it before he came in," he goes on. "He got a membership so he could hang out for a few hours before his plane arrived, but when he was talking to my fiancee" — Littletree Oppy, co-owner of iBake Denver — "he passed out and we couldn't wake him right away; we found out later he hadn't smoked or had an edible for fourteen years. So we called the paramedics again, and the deputies came that time, too. But when he was coherent enough to talk to them, he said he hadn't purchased the edible from us. And the deputies were fine with that.
"As he was leaving," Weed adds, "one of the deputies said he liked the place, because they didn't have any issues with us, like they did with the bar down the street."
With the success of iBake Denver's original location, Weed and Oppy opened a second affiliate in Lakewood. Because that city doesn't allow pot clubs, the business is strictly a head shop — "the only one in the state that's open 24 hours a day," Weed maintains. But a new iBake Denver location is set to open at 3995 South Broadway in Englewood on June 6, and it will use the pot-club model that's worked so well in Adams County.
Among the best practices he and Oppy have developed, Weed says, "is being up-front with the city, being up-front with the neighbors, being-up front with businesses in the neighborhood, being up-front with the landlords. We've learned that if you're not up-front with everybody, it can make things tough. And we make sure we're not in residential areas. We're in industrial areas or business areas."
If things go well in Englewood, Weed would like to expand the iBake franchise to Pueblo, "where they have a city council approval process. After that, we could take our proposal to Denver and say, 'We've been in Pueblo, we've been in Adams County, we've been in Englewood.' That's what we think is our best bet to show the city that we should be allowed to open up in Denver legally and not face the threat of being shut down."
In regard to Denver's current antipathy toward pot clubs, Weed is adamant. "They should have been allowed two years ago. I really think it's ridiculous that the people who are running the City of Denver aren't addressing this situation. They've shut down multiple places, and in shutting them down, they haven't given anyone information about how to do this right. Now they're strong-arming landlords through rules the city has set up instead of facing the problem and dealing with it. I think it's important something is done."
In time, Weed hopes, iBake Denver will actually have a Denver location.
For more about iBake Denver, click here.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.