First Look at Denver NORML's Initiative to Allow Marijuana Clubs

Last month, we reported about Denver NORML's plan to introduce a marijuana social use initiative for the 2016 ballot.

And when we chatted with Denver NORML executive director Jordan Person about a marijuana raid in Colorado Springs that she saw as an example of why such an initiative was needed, she suggested that the measure should be ready to go in a matter of weeks.

Person's estimate was spot-on. Denver NORML has now submitted an initiative dubbed the Denver Responsible Use Initiative.

The language isn't final, but a summary on view below, gives the best indication yet about how such an initiative would work.

The document says that the initiative "will legalize venues known as 'Private Marijuana Social Clubs' and establish a permitting process for special events where marijuana may be lawfully consumed by adults 21 years and older."

Such clubs wouldn't distribute marijuana, and neither would they be "a licensed alcohol premises or retail food establishment."

Moreover, the initiative calls on the city to establish a permitting process that must be enacted within 126 days, or eighteen weeks, after the measure passes — and it requires that such clubs be at least 1,000 feet away from schools, drug rehabilitation centers or daycare facilities.

“This submission to city council is the first step," Person says in a statement. "We’ll get feedback from the city, finalize the language, then start gathering signatures to put it on the ballot."

Collecting enough signatures is certainly doable. As we've reported, backers of last year's Limited Social Marijuana Consumption Initiative turned in more than double the number of signatures necessary for ballot approval. The measure was subsequently withdrawn following an agreement to work with other stakeholders to create rules allowing marijuana clubs — but these talks have yet to bear any fruit.

Person's statement continues:  “The city will be able to license and regulate private marijuana clubs and special events to ensure public health and safety. But we want to be sure that the regulations are reasonable and consumer-friendly.

"We expect there will be a wide range of clubs to serve Denver’s huge and diverse marijuana market. What can’t continue is the current situation that leaves so many people frustrated, angry and tempted to violate the law so they can enjoy a legal product.”

Here's the initiative's summary.

Denver Responsible Use Initiative Summary

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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