Cannabis in America
Denver Residents Could Soon Be Able to Use Pot in Some Public Spaces
The Mile-High City is on the cusp of reaching another milestone in its legal marijuana framework, as Denver voters appear to have voted to approve a measure that would allow pot consumption in approved public spaces. A week after Election Day, 53 percent of counted ballots support Initiative 300. Over 30,000 ballots still need to be counted, but The Denver Post said it would take a “supermajority” of opposition votes to keep the measure from passing.
Initiative 300 would “permit a business or a person with evidence of support of an eligible neighborhood association or business improvement district to allow the consumption of marijuana (“cannabis”) in a designated consumption area,” such as a bar or cafe. The four-year pilot program would stipulate that “consumption areas” would require the backing of neighborhood groups or a business improvement district, which would also draft the conditions the bar, cafe, or other space must operate under.
“We are truly grateful to the people of Denver for approving this sensible measure to allow social cannabis use in the city,” Kayvan Khalatbari, the leader of an Initiative 300-backing group said in a statement. “This is a victory for cannabis consumers who, like alcohol consumers, simply want the option to enjoy cannabis in social settings.”
Since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, and the first state-licensed shops opened in early 2014, consumers have dealt with a hampering paradox. People 21 and over could purchase and possess pot in public, but could only smoke or consume it in their private residences, with the approval of a landowner. Proponents hope the measure will open a door for Denver residents and tourists to smoke pot or eat edibles in public without persecution. Currently, the only places outside of private dwellings that allow cannabis consumption are private cannabis clubs. Those are few in number and very exclusive.
Not everyone is on board with widening the scope of Denver’s weed legislation. In an editorial for The Denver Post in October, Rachel O’Bryan, campaign manager for Protect Denver’s Atmosphere: Vote No on 300, wrote: “Initiative 300 won’t end public marijuana smoking. Rather, it will spread the problem to all parts of Denver by permitting outdoor marijuana smoking on patios and rooftops of potentially any business. This is simply too much.”
Over 160,000 Denver residents disagree, and as final ballots are counted, it seems like Colorado’s largest city will continue to pave the way for marijuana legalization in the U.S.