Social Consumption Coming to Denver, as 300 Officially Passes

It took nearly a week for the results to be finalized, but it's official: Denver voters have approved the social cannabis use initiative on the November 8 ballot.

"The voters of Denver have once again spoken and decided to adopt a sensible, new approach to marijuana policy," says I-300 proponent Mason Tvert.

This afternoon, proponents of I-300 gathered in front of the City and County Building to officially announce the passage of the initiative and discuss the next steps. Businesses will be required to apply for a social-use permit, and then it's up to their neighborhoods to decide whether it will be allowed.

"Communities would have the final say on this, neighborhoods would decide how this would work. And that means that these communities will be able to decide everything from where it can occur, to when it can occur, to how it can occur," Tvert says.

One main stipulation is that each business still must comply with the Clean Indoor Air Act, so no indoor smoking of any kind will be allowed. Social use will only be allowed on patios, rooftops or other outdoor areas that are out of public view.

"We've really done everything we can to work with city officials and with the community to make this something that will appeal to all stakeholders, and this is a big part of it. We're actually setting up a system that is still more restrictive than what we see for alcohol or even with tobacco," Tvert says.

Tvert says that he and other representatives of I-300 will make themselves available to legislators, business owners and neighborhood associations as applications start to come through and different enterprises start allowing social use.

While proponents for the measure imagined that social use would benefit tourists and locals whose cannabis use is limited, Emmett Reistroffer says he was surprised to meet unexpected local supporters on the campaign trail — including senior citizens, veterans and parents. Senior citizens told him that they want to try cannabis but it's not allowed in their housing facilities, he recalls. He heard the same thing from numerous veterans whose landlords forbid marijuana use on their properties. And he met a mother who said she doesn't want to smoke around her kids and would like a place to go outside the house.

Maureen McNamara, founder and chief facilitator of Cannabis Trainers, assured the crowd gathered that the staff at each establishment that allows social use will be trained in much the same way they are at establishments that serve alcohol.

"We are committed that as this rolls out that it will be done with compliance, professionalism and integrity... We know that we're in the spotlight, so we want to empower these venues that are choosing to have designated consumption areas to make sure that their team knows how to do this professionally," McNamara says.
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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.