City officials in Denver are preparing to launch the nation’s first legal cannabis cafés– but don’t expect bars selling beer, food and joints very soon, BuzzFeed News reports. Voters passed Initiative 300 in November, which created a four-year pilot program that will allow Denver to experiment with pot cafés starting as soon as this summer. Under the plan, a license would cost $1,000. Compromises made during the rule-making process have changed what the lounges will look like and how they’ll operate, and some pot-business owners wonder if bureaucracy will bury the budding industry before it gets a chance to launch.
In debates at public hearings, neighborhood leaders have expressed fears that cafés will help weed find its way into kids’ hands, or that residents will smell stinky pot from their porches instead of the fragrance of their prized roses. On the other side, marijuana entrepreneurs worry about how they’ll make money because they won’t be allowed to sell weed at cafés: instead, the spaces will be bring-your-own, and businesses that serve alcohol will be banned from having cannabis on the premises. Still, all eyes are on the first U.S. city to open cannabis cafés. There’s a sense that if things go well, legal public cannabis consumption will spread elsewhere. If Denver fails to craft a successful blueprint for public pot consumption, that could spell trouble for cannabis business owners hoping for cafés in other states.