Social Consumption Committee Discusses Special Events...and 4/20

Yes on 300 at Sensi Night.
Yes on 300 at Sensi Night. Brandon Marshall
As industry advocates gear up to celebrate 4/20, the city's Social Consumption Advisory Committee is starting to wrap up its work, which means that Denver could soon see legal public consumption every day of the year.

Although the committee meeting on March 24 saw some dispute over the image of the places where public consumption will be allowed under Initiative 300, which voters approved last fall, there was consensus on other issues. For example, members agreed that public hearings over licenses should not be places for people to vent about legalization or the implementation of social use; those are realities that Denverites are just going to have to deal with.

The details of special-event permitting sparked more discussion, though, particularly events allowing dual consumption: alcohol and cannabis.

Kobi Waldfogel, the committee's event-planning representative, noted that there are a few different types of events to consider, including cannabis-themed events where the primary objective is to get together and consume marijuana; concerts and music festivals; and smaller local events that are more community-focused.

Committee members generally agreed that in many cases, there can be a designated area for smoking — whether in a tent or behind a fence, and always out of view from children. For public events, consumption could be confined to a closed-off area, which would still be considered private and require an ID to enter.

For concerts and other festivals, Waldfogel mentioned the possibility of "adjacent consumption," where alcohol would be allowed in one area of a venue and cannabis in another.
Emmett Reistroffer announces I-300 has passed.
Kate McKee Simmons
While some committee members said they were strongly opposed to dual consumption, their opinion shouldn't outweigh that of the voters who approved I-300, committee member Emmett Reistroffer, one of the authors of the initiative, pointed out.

"When we debated on the campaign, we were very open," he said. "Voters approved this knowing it would be in places where alcohol is served already. I know not everyone supports that, but that is what passed."

At the same time, he noted that events like the 4/20 rally, where consumption happens out in the open and in front of children, is the antithesis of what I-300 is all about. "There's widespread consumption that happens, and event organizers get on stage and promote it," he added. "I think that event is a terrible event for the community. The city is still letting the 4/20 rally go through, and it is one of the most recklessly organized events I've ever seen in my life. There are children and young people everywhere with widespread consumption, and I think that to allow that event to continue goes against the spirit of I-300, because the voters made the distinction that consumption can happen in a distinguished area."

The last social-consumption committee meeting starts at 9 a.m. on Thursday, April 6, at the Webb Building in room 4.G.2 — two weeks before 4/20.
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Kate McKee Simmons interned at the National Catholic Reporter, was a reporter for the New York Post, and spent a brief stint in Israel learning international reporting before writing for Westword.

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