At first it looked as though it could have gone either way for Initiative 300 in Denver, but in the end it passed with about 53% of the vote, making it the city the first in the nation to allow cannabis use in regular businesses like restaurants and bars. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long after the initiative was passed before another issue was thrown into the mix as the Liquor Enforcement Division has come out with a new law that bans establishments with liquor licenses from applying for a license to allow cannabis consumption in the same place.
“After carefully considering all impacts to Coloradans and industry, this rule is in the best interests of public health and safety resulting from public and dual consumption,” said Barbara Brohl, executive director of the Department of Revenue and State Licensing Authority for both the Liquor Enforcement Division and the Marijuana Enforcement Division.
However, Mason Tvert of the Marijuana Policy Project, says that the way the pilot program would work would require anyone consuming cannabis to wear a green wrist band (likely similar to those used at fairs or to keep those under 21 from being served). This would make it easy for servers to determine whether or not someone was consuming cannabis if the individual tried to order a drink while they were out. Whether or not that will be good enough to allow the initiative to move forward and be implemented in full swing, we will have to wait and see.
It is already illegal for cannabis to be sold in places that have alcohol, as well as food or drink of any kind – so even once businesses apply for licenses and can allow social consumption of cannabis, patrons will have to bring their own supply with them. This new law was enacted shortly after the social use initiative passed – though lawmakers say that the timing is merely coincidence and that this law would have gone into effect either way. While it may not pose a risk to all businesses hoping to allow cannabis use, it would certainly get in the way of a lot of places that probably had it in mind.
Businesses in Denver will need to seek approval from multiple places before they can apply for a license to allow cannabis use in their establishments – however the idea behind the initiative was to give any business in the city the opportunity to participate and this new law prohibits a number of places from doing so. Hopefully there can be some sort of middle ground agreement – perhaps the wristbands would be enough of a compromise. At this point only time and some negotiating between lawmakers will tell us how this one turns out.