January 1, 2013 in Nation/World

Nation’s first recreational pot club shuttered

 

DENVER — The nation’s first known legal recreational pot club has already shut its doors.

The White Horse Inn in the southern Colorado town of Del Norte closed Tuesday, a day after its opening, because of a landlord dispute.

Owner Paul Lovato told The Denver Post that he wanted to be first in the nation to open a marijuana club. He beat an establishment in Denver by a few hours.

Lovato said his lease on the building didn’t start until Tuesday. Lovato said that when his landlord saw the publicity about the club, he canceled the lease before it took effect.

“By opening early, I kind of screwed myself out of my building,” Lovato told The Post.

Colorado voters in November legalized use and limited possession of marijuana. The marijuana measure bans public consumption but doesn’t prevent members-only group smoke-outs.

Lovato’s business model called for having a storefront where customers could buy coffee, T-shirts and other items and then a private building next door where they could smoke free samples of marijuana. He had planned to open just after New Year’s Eve ticked over into New Year’s Day. But pressure from another cannabis venue — Denver’s Club 64, a members-only gathering that intends to stage at different spots throughout the year — caused Lovato to speed up his timetable.

Lovato said he opened for a few hours during the day Monday, long enough to be the first in the state and to draw the media attention that came with the distinction.

“Wow guys!” Lovato wrote on the club’s Facebook page. “Today was a blast and a blur!”

Lovato said he may adopt Club 64’s model for the next year and then try to open a recreational marijuana shop when he’s allowed to.

After Monday’s opening, Lovato said he got calls from people in New Mexico who wanted to drive up to visit. He expected them to arrive sometime Tuesday morning.

“We’re doing the White Horse Inn at my house today,” he said.


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