Denver passes law allowing marijuana use in public

Lost amidst all the post-presidential election analysis are the numerous pro-marijuana laws that were passed throughout the country on Election Day. In Denver, Initiative 300 passed, giving city residents the opportunity to smoke pot in certain public places and businesses.

Colorado is already known for having some of the most lax marijuana laws in the country, but ballot measure 300 gives local businesses the option to apply for permits which would allow customers to smoke together in a public, social setting. Patrons at a coffee shop, for example, could bring their own weed and smoke it outside in a designated area, or consume edibles or vape while on the premises.

“We are truly grateful to the people of Denver for approving this sensible measure to allow social cannabis use in the city,” Kayvan Khalatbari, Denver Relief Consulting co-owner and Initiative 300 lead advocate 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.”

While ballot measure passed, it barely squeaked by with 53.4 percent voting in favor, according to the Denver Post. Unlike Colorado Amendment 64 that allowed for legal statewide recreational use, the initiative was not a mandate. The next step is for the Denver City Council to outline the pilot program and allow businesses to apply for the permits.

Just in case the measure does not work out like backers have hoped, there is an escape clause written into the new law. The city council will have the opportunity to scrap the new initiative after four years, or if everything goes well, choose to continue the program.

Most see the coming permits as opening the door even wider for the marijuana tourism industry that has sprung up in the state. Tourists and residents had to be careful not to smoke in public, and many hotels and Airbnbs not interested in having their guests toke up.

“Whether people like it or not, cannabis is a huge draw for tourists and there was no safe place to consume cannabis,” said Truman Bradley, founder of a marijuana dispensary chain.

“Most hotels don’t want it. You can’t consume it in public. So what are people going to do?” he continued. “[Initiative] 300 walks the line of providing a safe place to do that, but also making sure the neighborhood organizations get a say in what’s happening in their communities.”

More and more states are lifting pot restrictions, threatening Colorado’s lucrative tourism industry. This measure will allow Denver, and by extension Colorado, to stay not only competitive, but ahead of the crowd with regards to canna-tourism. However, there is one caveat many in Denver weren’t expecting: the state announced that bars, or anywhere with a liquor license, will be ineligible to apply for a social pot permit.

So, if you were hoping to get high in public while enjoying an overpriced craft beer, you’re outta luck.


[Denver Post] [Business Insider] [Image courtesy Joe Raedle/Getty Images]