Weed Consumption District along the Missouri River to suburban Kansas City

Just days after Missouri voters passed Amendment 3 legalizing adult-use cannabis, an ambitious project is unfolding in the entertainment district. Gladstone, Missouri-based Besa Hospitality Group announced Nov. 9 that it would open a new “cannabis entertainment district” along the Missouri River to serve people living in the greater Kansas City area.

The multi-million dollar project is called the Smokey River Entertainment District. The site has a countdown to April 20, 2023.

“We have the opportunity to showcase cannabis and the acceptance of cannabis in our everyday lives. We’re normalizing cannabis through hospitality,” Joey Pintozzi, vice president of operations and marketing, told KC TV 5, a CBS affiliate. “This is primarily an entertainment venue. Cannabis is just part of that experience. People will be able to consume legally in some of the venues and enjoy being themselves.”

Fox 4 reports that Pintozzi has joined forces with entrepreneur Jack Mitchell and both are already involved in Missouri’s medicinal cannabis industry. Developers expect the first phase to cost around $30 million to $50 million to get things going. Future development that could bring the overall cost much higher.

The concept includes an amphitheater, two indoor entertainment locations with capacities from 500 to 2,000 people, festival grounds, food and beverage concepts, corporate event rooms and wedding venues.

The Smokey River Entertainment District is located about 20 minutes from downtown Kansas City in the village of River Bend. The multipurpose space will provide thousands of jobs to the region and will be home to some of the top names in music, comedy and the arts, according to developers.

The effort is a joint venture with BesaMe Wellness, a state-based medical cannabis dispensary. Last Tuesday, state voters passed Amendment 3 to regulate adult cannabis use with 53% of the vote.

“This is an incredible opportunity for ALL communities,” said Jack Mitchell, CEO of the Besa Group of Companies. “This facility is more than just an amphitheater and entertainment venues. She will help us develop the music, hospitality, cannabis and cultural economies of the region together.”

The project will be implemented in two phases: the first will open in spring 2023 and will include the festival site, food and beverage concepts and a 1,500-seat live music venue.

The second phase will open in spring 2024 and will include the 14,000-capacity Smokey River Amphitheater.

“Welcome to the Smokey River entertainment district,” the website reads. “A nation-first multipurpose development where you have the freedom to be yourself. Nestled on the banks of the mighty Missouri River just 20 minutes east of downtown Kansas City, we invite you to come out and experience what the future of nightlife and entertainment holds. From private events, concerts, dining, leisure and unique experiences – we host it all. Keep an eye out for upcoming events and announcements, and don’t forget to follow us on social media and subscribe to our mailing list for the latest information. Grab your paddle and check your charts. I’ll see you down the river.

Similar efforts to establish a cannabis village are taking place in West Hollywood, California, where cannabis consumption lounges are legal. The geographically small town plans to rebrand itself as Cannabis Mecca, or “Emerald Village” — a name coined by a cannabis trading group of the same name.

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