First Colo. marijuana shop opens, closes

Jan. 1, 2013 at 2:58 PM

DEL NORTE, Colo., Jan. 1 (UPI) -- The first marijuana club to open in Colorado was forced to close Tuesday when the landlord canceled the lease, the operator said.

Paul Lovato, proprietor of the White Horse Inn in Del Norte, a small town in southern Colorado, said he opened the business Monday, The Denver Post reported. The owner of the building shut him down because his lease did not begin until Jan. 1, Tuesday.

"By opening early I kind of screwed myself out of my building," Lovato said Tuesday.

Lovato said he wanted to be the first to open in the state and did manage to beat Club 64, a members-only operation in Denver.

Colorado voters approved a referendum in November legalizing recreational marijuana use. Selling pot for non-medical purposes remains illegal until next year but giving it away is now legal.

Lovato's plan was to operate a coffee shop and to sell T-shirts and other items. Customers would be able to get free samples of marijuana next door to the shop, the newspaper said.

He may postpone having a permanent shop until sales become legal, while holding occasional special events.

Lovato told the Post he was expecting visitors from New Mexico who had called him after seeing the publicity about the White Horse Inn.

"We're doing the White Horse Inn at my house today," he said.

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