After six months of negotiating and committee hearings, Denver on Thursday became the first city in the nation to allow social cannabis consumption.
Businesses in the Mile High City will be able to apply for annual permits allowing adult patrons to consume their own cannabis as part of a four-year pilot program. The social experiment gives Denver cannabis enthusiasts the ability to share cannabis socially without fear of arrest.
In November, Denver voters passed Initiative 300, allowing for businesses to accommodate cannabis consumption among the public. But implementation of the program proved challenging. The Denver Department of Excise and Licenses spent half a year listening to all sides of the issue before unveiling the draft regulations.
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And, as if with most compromise rules, neither side particularly happy with the ruling.
According to the Denver Post:
“Since the very beginning, we wanted this to be a discussion between neighborhood groups and businesses,” said Emmett Reistroffer from Denver Relief Consulting, who led the pro-300 campaign. “We think some of these rules kind of circumvent that intent.”
Meanwhile, opponents of I-300 have concerns of their own, including seeing too few restrictions to keep children at a business away from the new “designated consumption areas,” whether indoors or outside, and to protect nearby residents from any effects of marijuana use at a local business.
“There is absolutely no buffer zone in these rules for consistent marijuana use backing up to homes,” said Rachel O’Bryan, who managed the anti-Initiative 300 campaign.
Colorado became the first state to allow for recreational marijuana sales on January 1, 2013. But since then, tourists coming to Denver have struggled to find a place to consume it. The new provision hopes to provide places for tourists and residents alike.
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“This is about personal responsibility and respecting adults who want to have a place to enjoy cannabis,” Reistroffer, said.
Here are some of the specifics of the new regulations:
- Before a business acquires a permit, it is required to have a letter of “evidence of community support.”
- Vaping, not smoking, is allowed. Edibles are permitted as well.
- Businesses are required to have a ventilation system sufficient enough to control the smell of cannabis.
- Businesses will not be allowed to serve alcohol if cannabis is being consumed on the premises.
- Patrons must sign a waiver declaring that the venue is not responsible for their actions. Customers are not allowed to sell cannabis to others.
A public hearing on the rules has been scheduled for June 13.