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Denver Passes Social Cannabis Consumption Ordinance

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As we all know by now, the election last week was a big win for legal weed. With all of the states in the U.S. passing their medical or recreational ballot measures except for one, it is clear that this movement is going in a forward direction. One particular ballot initiative that I feel is very important to cannabis legalization was ordinance 300 in the city of Denver, which would allow for social cannabis consumption. Days after ballots were cast, Denver city officials were still counting the ballots for this race as it was too close to call.

Well, the news is in and ordinance 300 has passed. Cannabis businesses or events can now apply for social cannabis consumption permits. Applicants for annual or temporary permits would need backing from a single neighborhood group, such as a city-registered neighborhood organization or a business improvement council. Those groups could set operating conditions in exchange for their support. So there are negotiations involved, and, of course, a fee.  

Here’s the skinny: currently, some private events in Denver can have cannabis on the premises, but these events aren’t open to the public. With the passage of 300, both residents and tourists (of 21+ years of age) can have more spaces where they can consume socially in a licensed venue.

All of the permits will be custom-tailored to the businesses and neighborhoods in question, but three things apply to each business/event of interest:

  1. Patrons have to bring their own buds.
  2. Cannabis smoking must be done outdoors on in some type of area out of public view (a porch, patio, deck, etc). Cannabis vaporizing can be done indoors, but only in designated areas.
  3. These permits will only go to businesses located far away from wherever children congregate (schools, parks, etc).

Upon hearing the news of Question 300 passing, Madeline Martinez, founder/owner/sole proprietress of the World Famous Cannabis Cafe, remarked, “In November 2009 I opened the first Cannabis Cafe in the United States. Now it is 2016 and eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized the recreational use of cannabis and 28 states plus D.C. have laws in place to protect medical use.

“Moving forward we need and deserve safe, cannabis-friendly social venues in all of those places. We [cannabis consumers]are law-abiding, taxpaying citizens and, given the opportunity, we choose to consume legally, out of public view, to protect the rights of consumers and non-consumers alike.”

Kim Cole is the owner of Raspberry Roots, which will be a fully integrated cultivation, manufacturing, and retail in Anchorage, Alaska. She explained to me that Alaska has created a regulation for on-site consumption as an endorsement for a retail store, but the Marijuana Control Board is working on the specifics and are currently taking a second round of public comment. They should be addressing what it will look like at their December meeting.

Cole explained, “It is essential that people have a place to consume cannabis for so many reasons. We don’t want tourists to light up in their hotels or cars. Some people cannot consume in their apartments due to lease agreements, while others would prefer to not smoke in front of their young children.”

“Patients in these situations need a safe, comfortable location to take their medication, while those who consume cannabis instead of alcohol shouldn’t be penalized or marginalized for making the safer choice. This is a needed step toward the normalization of cannabis.”

I agree with both of these ladies and hope to see more states that have legalized cannabis explore the option of social consumption clubs and events.

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About Author

Leah Maurer is a happily married Portland mom to 3 young boys. She is one of the owners of The Weed Blog and contributes content regularly for the site. She also does some freelance writing, helped launch and is still very active in Portland's Women Grow chapter, and is the Branding and Outreach Manager for Yerba Buena Farms. Leah is a cannabis legalization activist and hopes to see the prohibition of cannabis end on a federal level, and to see the cannabis conversation normalized across America.