Denver's Initiative 300 Allows Social Use, But Implementation Still Months Away

How soon can we expect to see Initiative 300 implement in Denver? Not soon, as revealed during a briefing for Denver City Council members on December 5. By the end of December, the city will have finalized the makeup of the Social Consumption Advisory Committee and crafted an initial draft of the Social Consumption Rules and Regulations that will guide the implementation of 300.

The committee will be comprised of representatives from city government and Registered Neighborhood Organizations (RNOs), as well as industry leaders and members on each side of the 300 issue, according to Ashley Kilroy, director of the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses and former director of the city's Marijuana Policy Division.

On January 21, the city will release its application that businesses will use to apply for social use licenses. But while the application will be available, businesses won't be able to actually send them to the city until sometime this summer. A draft timeline indicates that Excise and Licenses hopes to start accepting applications between June and August.

Between January and March, the Social Consumption Advisory Committee will hold four to six meetings to develop the final draft of rules and regulations governing social use licenses, and then between April and May the city will review the draft. There will also be a public hearing to discuss the proposed rules.

By this summer, the plan is to have the rules and regulations finalized and the city will start accepting applications and permit fees.

This timeline was discussed when city council members met with officials from Excise and Licenses and the Office of Marijuana Policy.

Those officials stressed that the primary objective moving forward is to honor the will of the voters, while abiding by state and city law. “Our plan is to implement the will of the voters within the confines of the law,” Kilroy told councilmembers.

Amendment 64 only specified that consumption could not be "open and public or in a manner that endangers others," but did not define "open" or "public." Under Initiative 300, as long as marijuana is consumed in a "designated consumption area," it is allowed. The language is vague enough that it can be open to interpretation, so the Denver City Attorney's Office is working to make sure that when I-300 is implemented, it does not break any other laws.

"In looking at the implementation of Initiative 300, we are going to have to be very aware that we could run into serious conflict with state law unless the cannabis consumption permits are limited only to those locations that are not considered to be a public place," said City Attorney Kristen Bronson. "In other words, it cannot be in places where a substantial number of the public can have access."
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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.