Since Colorado legalized marijuana in 2012, there have been a number of changes to their cannabis industry’s regulations – and some cities have enacted laws to allow limited social use in order to regulate the cannabis cafes that keep cropping up. The city of Denver has been fighting for over a year for a proper set of regulations that would allow social use within the city. There was an initiative circulating in 2015, which ended up being put on hold while advocates attempted to work with the city in hopes of coming to a compromise without the need for a ballot initiative.
In the end, however, two separate issues were approved for the Denver ballot, with two possible ways to go about allowing social use of cannabis. Initiative 300, which would create a pilot program for allowing cannabis consumption with a “bring your own cannabis” policy, and it would allow restaurants, bars, cafes and other businesses to apply for a license that would permit them to let customers consume cannabis on their property. It would only allow for edible and vaporized cannabis products indoors, all smoking would have to take place in a designated area a specified distance from any public areas such as sidewalks and roadways.
“It’s pretty much what I thought it would be,” Kayvan Khalatbari, a founding partner of Denver Relief Consulting and the lead proponent for the initiative’s Neighborhood-Supported Cannabis Consumption Pilot Program, told The Cannabist late Tuesday. “I’m very happy that we’ve made the progress that we have with a very grassroots initiative.”
At the start of the night on Election Day, it was looking like an extremely close call for the measure – by 9:30 p.m., only hours after the polls closed, the initiative was winning, but just barely at 50.6% in favor and 49.4% against. Even though it was brought up that 66% of Denver voters passed Amendment 64, and a significantly smaller percentage approved this social use initiative, it is still worth noting that in the end the initiative did pass – meaning over half of Denver understands that sometimes residents and tourists need a place to consume cannabis. And those who are against cannabis consumption should see the logic in having it relegated within a specific establishment, rather than on the public sidewalks.
“The importance of community approval is imperative if we are going to work together to better our communities in a world of legal cannabis. By creating safe spaces for consumption, we are effectively taking open cannabis consumption off the streets and into social, yet private settings.” – Mark Malone
As of Wednesday, it was still too close to call an official winner – but by the looks of it, Initiative 300 managed to win by a hair. If that turns out to be the case, then Denver can hopefully be an excellent example of how communities and the cannabis industry can come together. By allowing social cannabis consumption, businesses will immediately garner more business – after all, if it’s legal to have, why wouldn’t you want to go to a restaurant or cafe where you were able to enjoy a bowl with your dinner or coffee? What about those friends who tag along to the bar but never drink because they would rather toke up? This would help businesses grow, which would in turn create more jobs for residents – all while creating a safe and controlled place for people to consume cannabis in a social setting.