Denver NORML to File Marijuana Social Use Initiative for 2016 Ballot

As we've reported, negotiations are ongoing between marijuana reformers, business interests and officials to allow social marijuana use in Denver.

But last week, Mason Tvert, a proponent of a social cannabis-use measure that was withdrawn from the 2015 ballot in order to allow these talks to get underway, made it clear that if progress isn't made, he's ready to resubmit his proposal and move ahead with a public vote.

Now, however, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws' Denver affiliate has decided that the time for waiting is over.

This morning, Denver NORML announced that it would be filing its own initiative to put a limited social use of marijuana item on the ballot in 2016.

When we reached Tvert this morning, he said he hadn't heard about the plan and offered no immediate comment.

As for why Denver NORML is acting now, its release cites recent comments made by Denver mayor Michael Hancock in a meeting with the Denver Post editorial board.

Hancock has been among the most vehement critics of pot clubs, which have been the subject of crackdowns by the Denver Police Department — most notably last 4/20 weekend. But while the mayor hasn't publicly changed his position, he told the Post braintrust that he's open to getting more information about the concept.

In a statement for the release, Denver NORML executive director Jordan Person alludes to Tvert's efforts in positive terms.

“We greatly appreciate the previous attempt to bring this issue to Denver voters, but we want to get this done," Person is quoted as saying. “The need is obvious as residents and visitors continue to have no legal place other than private homes to enjoy a legal product with like-minded adults.

 “We are coming from the perspective of the consumer and not as industry business owners or representatives,” he adds, “but of course we will work with a broad-based coalition of consumers, industry groups and business to gather the needed signatures and to ensure passage.”

As for specifics about the proposal, Denver NORML reveals that "initiative language is being reviewed by NORML's national office and Colorado NORML prior to filing with the city for review and comment, which is expected soon."

Will Denver NORML's move speed up negotiations involving Tvert and company, which began after the first initiative was withdrawn last September? Or will these chats devovle into chaos, opening the door for the possibility of competing social-marijuana-use ballot measures? No telling yet — but things on this front appear to be getting very, very interesting.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts