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Reader: Common Consumption of Alcohol...but Not Cannabis?
Danielle Lirette

Reader: Common Consumption of Alcohol...but Not Cannabis?

On Tuesday, November 12, Denver City Council unanimously approved a plan that will allow for common liquor consumption areas starting in the spring of 2020. The five-year pilot program, would allow restaurants and bars to unite and gain formal recognition as “promotional associations.” Venues will be able to apply for a  common consumption area license, which will last a year and can be renewed annually; bars will have to propose an entertainment district in which the proposed consumption area would be located.

And remember, this is all about alcohol. It has nothing to do with the common consumption of cannabis, a concept the city is still wrestling with. And residents have certainly noticed the irony.

Says Lou:

So let me get this straight. We can have drunks running around the streets with their alcohol, but we can't have a safe area for people to consume cannabis? Way to go.

Adds Nick:

I'd like to take the time to thank the government for giving me rights I was born with...

Notes Rafael: 

But still can't smoke herb in public.

Responds Joy: 

And we've voted for that...twice! I don't remember voting for this.

Suggests Mufasa: 

Great. Now, I PROPOSE: We make the four blocks of South Broadway, between East Mexico and Evans open consumption blocks for cannabis, anywhere cigarettes are allowed.

Mufasa isn't alone in thinking it's high time for the city to reconsider its regulations on social cannabis consumption.  Businesses couldn't even apply for a social use permit until the summer of 2017, almost five years after Colorado voters approved Amendment 64 and the year after Denverites voted for a social use initiative.

But entrepreneurs interested in applying for a social pot use permit face a long list of obstacles, including a state law that bans alcohol and pot sales at such establishments. One fixable restriction was a 1,000-foot buffer between a social use business and any daycare centers, drug treatment centers and city-owned parks, pools and recreation centers — a rule added by the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses after the measure was approved by voters. According to drafters of the original social use initiative, this buffer severely limits opportunities in Capitol Hill, RiNo, downtown Denver and other walkable neighborhoods.

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After leading a task force that evaluated the success (or lack thereof) of Denver's social pot use program for nearly a year, Denver City Councilwoman Kendra Black proposed keeping the 1,000-foot restriction for schools, but cutting the setbacks to 500 feet for all locations that were added during the rule-making process. That proposal went down at the April 22 council meeting, however, much to the dismay of cannabis entrepreneurs and users around the city — and beyond. Since then, council has been back at the drawing board. Meanwhile, it managed to pass the alcohol-related common consumption plans relatively quickly.

What do you think about the city's new common consumption plan for alcohol? The lack of a common consumption plan for cannabis? Let us know in a comment or send an email to marijuana@westword.com.

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