When cannabis was legalized in Colorado, as well as the other states who have since followed suit, one of the biggest problems people have run into is the lack of places to smoke cannabis outside of a private residence. This has left tourists and residents alike with very few options when it comes to actually consuming their legally bought cannabis, and Denver has sought to ensure that at least in their city, that will no longer be an issue after passing I-300, a local ballot initiative to allow social consumption in licensed businesses.
The initiative creates what is called the Neighborhood-Supported Cannabis Consumption Pilot Program – which will allow any local business that doesn’t sell marijuana or alcohol to obtain a permit from the city (after obtaining the support of the neighborhood) that would allow them to let people 21 or older consume cannabis on the premises. State law prevents cannabis from being consumed anywhere alcohol is sold – so for now businesses like restaurants where beer and liquor are sold will not be able to have such a permit.
Any other business looking to allow cannabis consumption faces the potential issue of only being able to open their doors to people 21 and older when cannabis is actively being consumed – and proposed rules suggested that they be required to have a separate entrance for consumption areas if they wish to be open to the general public, but it was argued that such limitations were unnecessary.
“Think of all the restaurants that have bars with people that drink and walk past children,” Susman said. “It doesn’t make any sense to limit it just because you’re going to walk past a child.”
The idea behind I-300 was that it would help to further bring cannabis in line with how alcohol is treated and regulated – and activists are keeping a close eye on the proposed restrictions being put into place by Denver Excise and Licensing, who have been working on draft regulations which should be ready for review by April 25th. Once the final draft of the regulations is released they will be up for public review for a month, and on May 25th the general public will get their chance to let their opinions be heard before everything is finalized.
One of the issues that they are running into is allowing smoking indoors, which would conflict with the Clean Indoor Air Act. But people want to have a place where they can consume cannabis openly, and that includes smoking as well as vaping and eating edibles. Whether they will allow outdoor areas (out of sight of the general public) or find a way to allow cannabis smoking indoors has yet to be determined – but activists are concerned that strict limitations on what kind of cannabis can be consumed could push people back into smoking outdoors in places like parks, which is technically illegal.
“This is what this initiative was for — to give people a legal space to consume marijuana — and if they can’t do it, they’re going to go back into the park, which is exactly what we don’t want,” she added.
Hopefully those setting up the regulations for this new pilot program are taking all the issues into consideration and are working on a way to ensure that everyone can be (at least somewhat) happy with the results. Soon enough we will know what Denver expects things to look like when it comes to licensing businesses to allow cannabis consumption, and if all goes well, we could see businesses allowing cannabis use in the city as soon as the end of the summer.