The Creswell Mansion, a sandstone built in 1889, sits two blocks from the Capitol. at 1244 Grant Street on Feb. 9, 2018. It will be leased by the potential cannabis consumption business Utopia Spa. (Lindsey Bartlett, The Cannabist)

First marijuana spa in U.S. applies to operate in historic Denver mansion

A historic mansion blocks from Colorado’s state Capitol could soon be the home of the nation’s first legal marijuana spa.

Utopia All Natural Wellness Spa and Lounge submitted its application for a Denver Cannabis Consumption Establishment license on Wednesday for a spa in the Creswell Mansion, 1244 Grant St. It hopes to be among the first businesses approved for the first-of-its-kind social use program authorized by the city’s voter-approved Initiative 300.

If all goes according to plan, the spa’s application will receive a public hearing within 60 days, Utopia founder and CEO Cindy Sovine told The Cannabist. If approved, her estimated timeline for receiving the permit to operate the spa is around 90 days.

“It’s been a long process and I’ve worked really hard to get all my ducks in a row, so I am happy,” said Sovine.

Cindy Sovine Utopia marijuana spa Denver
Cindy Sovine, CEO of Utopia, hopes to make it the first cannabis-friendly spa in Denver — and the country. (Photo provided by Cindy Sovine)

She aims to create a utopian environment for spa mavens and marijuana aficionados, alike.

The adults-only spa will feature two cannabis consumption areas in compliance with the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act. One will be indoors where adults can consume edibles and vape, and one will be outdoors where adults can smoke marijuana flower in a ventilated area that is not visible to neighbors, she said.

Along with cannabis-infused massages and ganja yoga, Utopia also plans to host weed events falling into three categories: healing services, natural products and social consumption.

The facility will be open to the public and will also sell private memberships allowing access to designated cannabis consumption areas.

The mansion may also host private events, opening the door for everything from motivational speakers to cooking classes, Sovine said.

“The whole idea is to create social opportunities to bring people together,” she said.

Sovine is also planning a food and retail component selling products such as cannabidiol-infused lattes and even hemp clothing.

“The cannabis consumer is an all-natural consumer,” she said, calling the spa’s product lineup an “ode to hemp” and including CBD-infused body oils, cosmetics, lotions and hemp neutraceuticals.

So how did Sovine’s marijuana spa secure such a prime perch in the heart of Denver steps from the Capitol?

Sovine credits her connection to a powerful law firm — and fate.

Colorado-based marijuana lawfirm Vicente-Sederberg LLC  set up shop in the Creswell Mansion in 2012 as its lawyers worked on the state’s Amendment 64, the 2012 ballot initiative legalizing recreational marijuana. The lawfirm had offices in the mansion until last year and still owns part of it.

“I intersected with these attorneys in the process of my work with medical marijuana, found the mansion and fell in love with it,” Sovine said.

But the seeds for Utopia All Natural Wellness Spa were sewn well before Amendment 64. The idea first came to Sovine as she was working in Colorado as a lobbyist in the pharmaceutical and hospital industries, a career she began in 2006, when she found out her father was battling lymphatic cancer. She decided to let go of her health care clients in 2016 to work towards passing a bill for patient’s rights. The bill known as Jack’s Law allowed children suffering from the kinds of ailments who see benefit from medical marijuana to be able to use it in the classroom, ultimately changed the layout of medical marijuana in Colorado.

“After working on (Jack’s Law), I began supporting the community and one of the things we did was support I-300 because patients need a place to consume,” she said.

She kept waiting for somebody to come forward with an idea for a cannabis consumption facility focused on health and wellness, Sovine said. When no one did, “it became clear to me that this was what I wanted to do — to help patients like my dad who care about wellness and want to try and access marijuana in a non-pressuring environment.”

Utopia has assembled an advisory board made up of law professionals and heavy-hitters in the cannabis industry including Kayvan Khalatbari, Stephanie Davis, David Nagel, Jordan Wellington Esq., and Eric Dyckman.

Sovine hopes the business model can demonstrate what a good social use program looks like for Denver — and the rest of the country. Every legal marijuana state is dealing with the same issue, she said: Their laws provide access to a product but not a space to legally consume it.

“This is going to be an ongoing public safety concern, and also a public nuisance concern,” she said. “Regardless of how one may feel about cannabis, we need to find solution for all people.”

Utopia’s application for a social use permit under Denver’s I-300 is the second filed so far, following the Coffee Joint, which will soon have it’s application considered in a community forum.

Update: Proposal for Denver’s first marijuana club takes early steps

As part of the I-300 permit application process, an establishment needs support from a neighborhood or business group. Utopia has the support of five surrounding registered neighborhood organizations: Capitol Hill United Neighborhoods, Cultural Arts Residential Organization, Denver Inter-Neighborhood Cooperation, The Shire of Capitol Hill, and Unsinkables, Inc.

“We intend to be part of the culture of the neighborhood,” Sovine said. “We really are an open door policy, our spa business is public. We look forward to welcoming members of the community in and educating them on cannabis and how it’s used.”