Colorado's Marijuana Election Night Watch Parties Celebrate Pot but Turn Somber

Marijuana supporters, industry reps and advocates gathered at two election-night watch parties in Denver on November 8.

Employees of five cannabis companies and their guests met up at the WeWork building on 17th and Platte streets, where tracking data for all nine states with marijuana measures on the ballot was displayed on a large screen at the front of the room; meanwhile, election results in the presidential race were playing on a television next to the projector screen.

At the start, the mood was lighthearted and fun, with beer on tap and infused tea provided by Stillwater — but then results in the presidential race started to trickle in. While some guests continued to mingle, people started sitting in front of the projector and television screens, somber expressions on their faces. They pulled out their phones and scrolled Twitter, tracking results from multiple news outlets.

As more and more party-goers realized how the presidential race was turning, the group got quiet and everyone was glued to the screen. Even early victories like medical marijuana passing in Florida didn't lighten the mood.

"If Trump wins, marijuana legalization won't matter," one guest remarked after Florida turned red. "It's a great night for cannabis, but will it even matter tomorrow?"
At El Charrito, the early mood at the Yes on 300 watch party was jovial yet anxious. One of the measure's creators, Kayvan Khalatbari, remained calmly pessimistic through the night. That mood continued until late on November 9, when 300 could claim victory with a slight margin of 3,300 votes.

Now that it's passed, the real work begins, he says. "It's the rule-making, dealing with the neighborhoods that comes now," Khalatbari explains. "What we're proposing is that we'll work with the neighborhood associations to make sure that respected permit holders are applying, and at least everybody's educated."

The proposal had a huge list of businesses that supported it, 142 organizations in all. But "those are just supporting business," Khalatbari continues. "They don't necessarily want to implement. The owner of Bar Standard, Regas Christou, who also owns Vinyl, Church, Milk Bar, he's doing it not because he wants to get the permit — because they didn't necessarily want to implement it — but to not have smoking inside the venues. They support it to have that choice."
But with the passage of 300, at least Denver businesses have that choice.