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First US Coffee Shop to Open New Year’s Day

Two coffee drinks piled with whipped cream sit next to a joint and lighter at the new The White Horse Inn of Del Norte, Colorado.

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First US Coffee Shop to Open New Year’s Day

Countdown to legal weed in the US: two days, ten hours to go.

The White Horse Inn of Del Norte, Colorado, has announced that it will be the first cannabis-serving coffee shop to open in the US since the historic November votes which ended state pot prohibitions in Washington and Colorado. The White Horse, which owner Paul Lovato is billing as the first of its kind in the country, will sell $10-$25 lattes and other coffee drinks with “free” grams of cannabis as a condiment.

This tenuous scheme is probably a result of the fact that it isn’t strictly legal to make retail sales of cannabis yet in Colorado. While Governor Hickenlooper has already carried into execution the portion of Amendment 64 which ends prosecution of cases of possession of less than an ounce, the state alcohol board still has not promulgated their regulations or permit applications to sell cannabis at the retail level. Lovato is therefore taking a significant risk by sticking his neck out so far.

More broadly, the incident highlights the tricky policy situation lawmakers in Denver find themselves in. Pressure from would-be entrepreneurs like Lovato is sure to increase, while too much proliferation might draw a crackdown from the Obama administration similar to what happened in 2010 and 2011. So state regulators much act quickly to draft regulations which will effectively prevent major problems, even while forging into unknown territory; no other political body has allowed such liberal cannabis laws since international treaties required nearly-worldwide prohibition in the 1960s.

So, Colorado: Happy new year, and good luck in 2013.

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