Residents and tourists in Denver, Colorado looking to unwind with a mud bath, cucumber eye covers, and a joint of OG Kush will need to wait a little longer.
And while the proposed Utopia facility checked every other box on regulators’ checklist, the 19 feet of extra asphalt needed was enough to throw a wrench in the entire project. Like zoning standards surrounding liquor sellers or concert venues Denver regulators were quick to defend their decision as an attempt to treat marijuana businesses like any other commercial endeavor.
“Marijuana businesses are regulated businesses in Denver, and just like other regulated businesses, they must comply with all legal requirements,”said Denver Excise and Licenses Director Ashley Kilroy said in a statement detailing the city’s decision. “We don’t issue a security guard license without a complete criminal background check, we don’t issue a license to a liquor store if it’s within 1,500 feet of another liquor store, and we don’t issue a special event liquor license if it isn’t submitted within the appropriate timeframe.”
For Cindy Sovine, the ganjapreneur behind Utopia, city officials are too focused on what she says are arbitrary regulations. City regulators insisted that despite those endorsements, they did not have the authority to waive the zoning rule. “One they can’t find anywhere else in the world, legally.”
Even after the denial from Denver officials, Sovine isn’t ready to throw in the towel and start looking for another location just yet.
“If they’re hiding behind regulation and saying that they have no discretion to waive those additional setbacks that were not part of the original ballot measure, then that’s something city council has to take a look at and say how does this make sense,” Sovine said.
As of press time, the already-approved Coffee Joint and Sovine’s rejected spa are the only businesses to even apply for a social-use license under Denver’s I-300 measure.