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Social marijuana club Tetra Lounge in Denver gets green light for new license – Denver Business Journal – The Business Journals

The members of Denver’s social marijuana club Tetra Lounge on Wednesday celebrated the approval of the business’ marijuana hospitality licensing application.
Tetra, whose spacious indoor lounge and back garden patio are located in the River North Art District at 3039 Walnut St., is Denver’s first marijuana club to be approved for a marijuana hospitality license as a social equity applicant. Gov. Jared Polis and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock attended a celebratory event for the business in RiNo.
Molly Duplechian, executive director of the Department of Excise and Licenses, approved Tetra’s marijuana hospitality license on March 21, pending Tetra’s required completion of inspections.
In April 2021, Denver made it legal for businesses to operate as marijuana hospitality establishments, where customers could consume cannabis on the premises, provided they have the proper license.
“As we went around and we started seeing the marijuana industry marketplace take off, one of the challenging and painful moments is the fact that it was not a very equitable industry,” Hancock said. “Because of the war on drugs, we still have African Americans in particular who are burdened by possession charges on their records of marijuana while the industry has taken off and is generating billions of dollars for people.”
According to the city of Denver, for the next six years, the only operators who can apply for a hospitality license must meet at least one of the city’s social equity standards: 1) applicants must have lived for 15 years in an Opportunity Zone or Disproportionate Impacted Area between 1980 and 2010; 2) the applicant or close relative must have been arrested, convicted or subject to investigation for marijuana-related charges; and 3) the applicant’s income can not exceed 50% of Colorado’s median income for the year prior to the application. 
Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division reported in February that more than 80% of marijuana business owners are white. The state’s goal is to increase the percentage of minority owners by ensuring that, for now, social equity applicants have exclusive access to many marijuana licenses, including hospitality and delivery.
“Last year, the marijuana industry generated $2.2 billion of sales in Colorado, $688 million just in Denver alone. That’s a big effin’ deal to say we’re going to hold licenses for people who can not get into the industry,” Hancock said Wednesday. 
Tetra Lounge announced on Facebook it had to close in January for a few weeks while finishing its licensing process under Denver’s new rules. The business had previously been operating as a legal social club for private members. The club has 15,000 members.
“It’s very exciting to have proven a model of having a cannabis club: the safety, the diversity and being able to prove it to the city and the state over the last four years to get to this point,” Tetra owner DeWayne Benjamin told Denver Business Journal. “We’ve been open for four years through Covid, through everything and proven ourselves to be one of the safest social atmospheres ever…Giving us a license gives us the legitimate opportunity for growth.”
Tetra is one of the few Denver businesses currently approved for a marijuana hospitality license, joining The Coffee Joint, which was grandfathered in prior to the new social equity rules. The Patterson Inn, in Capitol Hill, was also approved for a license, pending inspections.
Tetra memberships cost $20 for the day, $50 for a month and $350 for the year, according to its website. Benjamin said he is planning a grand re-opening of the business on April 15. 
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