Social use for cannabis consumers is one step closer to becoming a reality in Denver, and we are excited to announce our official endorsement of Denver, CO’s Initiative 300, Denver’s Neighborhood-Supported Cannabis Consumption Pilot Program. Social use is long overdue. It is almost too incredible to believe that four years after legalizing for recreational use, and 16 years since Amendment 20 was passed to permit medicinal use, that the majority of the state does not have laws to permit the social use of cannabis in public places. We not only endorse I-300, we believe the initiative to be the best model for other localities experimenting with cannabis legalization and social use.
Colorado made history in 2012 when voter elected to legalize the use of recreational cannabis. In 2001, Amendment 20 passed allowing Coloradans to use medicinal cannabis. In all of these years, cannabis consumers, both medical and recreational, have been struggling to find a place to consume that does not get shut down within a few months of opening. Some places have managed to stay open and expand, such as iBake, a Cannabis Consumers Coalition favorite for the community work they have done through the years. A few places in Colorado Springs have managed to obtain business licenses. With the exception of these very few places, Outside of private residences, cannabis consumers, and tourists specifically, have nowhere to go and risk receiving tickets for public consumption. Colorado voters with children at home, or who want to socialize with like-minded people, have nowhere to go to socialize with like-minded people despite voting for the right to use cannabis legally.
I-300 is a perfect solution gives small businesses, like bars and restaurants, permission to allow consumption of cannabis in designated areas, much like smoking outdoors in a designated area, away from patrons. A four-year pilot program, it gives an opportunity for small businesses, and not just bars, a chance to allow indoor consumption in the form of edibles and vaporizing, and outdoor smoking options to abide by the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act. Most importantly, it gives non cannabis consumers who are also community stakeholders a say in what is happening in their neighborhoods. This is a critical because there has been upset within neighborhoods regarding what some feel to be an encroachment on their own ability to voice whether or not they want cannabis in their neighborhood. This is one of the reasons that Denver issued a moratorium on new cannabis business licenses.
Kayvan Khalatbari with Denver Relief Consulting, and former co-owner of Denver Relief Dispensary, is behind the initiative, says about the initiative, “In Denver we’ve legalized the purchase and possession of cannabis for adults but have not provided them with a safe and discreet place to consume it away from city sidewalks, parks and places where children congregate. The City of Denver Cannabis Consumption Pilot Program is a responsible approach to solving this problem that won’t remedy itself. It will provide designated spaces in certain City-permitted business establishments where adults 21 and over can consume cannabis in accordance with the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act and out of view of the public. Several states will be voting on similar measures this fall, while the Colorado Legislature considered a bill this year on the topic. Two new potential iterations are currently being crafted for this coming spring’s legislative session. The problem stems from the fact that many residents of Denver live in HOA or landlord-controlled properties that disallow cannabis use on the premises, while more than 70 million tourists come to Colorado each year, also with no place to go. This has led to a 500% increase in public consumption tickets issued in Denver since the passing of Amendment 64 in Colorado, with African-Americans being arrested at a rate 2.6 times higher than whites.”
Clearly, with a 500% increase in public consumption tickets and continued disparity among arrests, social use is very much needed not just in Denver, but in all of Colorado. Attempts by Vicente Sederberg LLC to collect signatures for a social use ballot was widely successful, but the campaign was abandoned to work with local businesses and City Council-members on a solution. Denver NORML had tried to get a social use initiative permitting social use clubs via private membership style clubs with a provision to allow for special event permitting. The group failed to gather enough signatures. In our opinion, any social use measure is a baby step in the right direction for cannabis consumers; however, we do believe that I-300 is a more inclusive bill that considers all stakeholders. With I-300, neighborhoods get a very large say in what happens in their immediate communities, and business owners also have a chance to compete for a larger market share. It a win for all stakeholders involved if successful, which we have faith that it will be.
By now, most if not all of Denver residents have received their ballots and Denver Elections are on November 8, 2016. Remember to vote YES on I-300!