Colo.’s first pot club closed in dispute with landlord

DENVER (AP) ľ The first recreational pot club to open in Colorado has already closed its doors, after a dispute with its landlord.

The White Horse Inn, in the tiny southern Colorado town of Del Norte, opened Monday as the first club in the state to offer patrons a chance to have a joint with their cup of joe. But owner Paul Lovato said Tuesday morning it was that early open date that caused problems.

Though Lovato had the keys to the building that housed the White Horse Inn on Monday, his lease on the building didnĺt start until Tuesday. Lovato said, when his landlord saw the publicity about the club, he canceled the lease before it took effect.

Colorado voters in November legalized use and limited possession of marijuana. Though it currently remains illegal to sell nonmedical marijuana in the state ľ recreational pot shops wonĺt be able to get licenses to open for about another year ľ the law allows people to give marijuana to one another without compensation.

Lovatoĺs 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 Yearĺs Eve ticked over into New Yearĺs Day. But pressure from another cannabis venue ľ Denverĺs Club 64, a members-only gathering that intends to stage at different spots throughout the year ľ 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.

ôWow guys!ö Lovato wrote on the clubĺs Facebook page. ôToday was a blast and a blur!ö

The publicity also drew the attention of his landlord, who was less thrilled about the business, Lovato said.

ôIt was really unexpected,ö he said. ôI got caught up in the whole, ĹI want to be the first to openĺ thing. And I did that. I was the first. ... Iĺm pretty proud of that.ö

Lovato said he may adopt Club 64ĺs model for the next year and then try to open a recreational marijuana shop when heĺs allowed to. Until then, he said, he will do what he can to keep his vision for the White Horse Inn as alive as possible.

After Mondayĺs 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.

ôWeĺre doing the White Horse Inn at my house today,ö he said.

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