Although many expected bar and restaurants would be some of the first businesses to take advantage of Denver’s new social marijuana consumption law—an experiment approved under Initiative 300—state officials recently revealed that these types of establishments will actually be banned from catering to the stoner culture.
According to a report from the Denver Post, a brand spanking new provision was put into place last Friday that will prevent the food and beverage industry from capitalizing on legal marijuana. The latest rule, which is set to take effect at the beginning of the year, was designed to disqualify those operations that hold a liquor license from becoming one of the public places throughout Denver proper where people are permitted to smoke weed.
While the passing of the rule is being considered a “let down” by some supporters of Initiative 300, others close to the situation have been aware of the state’s desire to impose such a provision for several months. The Liquor Enforcement Division of the Colorado Department of Revenue announced its decision on Friday.
The concept of preventing bars and restaurants from transforming into public cannabis consumption vessels for the legal pot community does not come as much of surprise. Earlier this year, some folks close to the Initiative 300 campaign told HIGH TIMES that, “Bars and restaurants are probably the least likely type of business to apply for the permit because of other food and liquor licensing restrictions likely taking effect in the near future.”
“In reality, I don’t expect more than a handful of businesses to apply for or qualify for the permit because of how restrictive our proposal is,” said Emmett Reistroffer with Denver Relief Consulting.
What is perhaps most interesting about Initiative 300 is the other types of businesses that will be allowed to open up their establishments to on-site pot consumption. Reistroffer said back in September that a “café, coffee shop, music venue, arcade, yoga studio, movie theater,” and “even a laundromat” were all more likely to obtain a license to allow people to smoke marijuana on the premises.
However, any pre-existing business interested in participating in the great social use experiment must first secure the approval of their local neighborhood or business authority.
Interestingly, it does not appear that the alcohol industry was all too pleased with the idea of cannabis infiltrating those businesses that sell copious amounts of beer and hard liquor. A press release issued by the Colorado Department of Revenue said the latest rule was put into place, in part, due to the concerns of the booze industry suggesting that cannabis consumption should be “expressly” prohibited in places where alcoholic beverages are served.
“It is astonishing that the Department of Revenue is so openly fighting a turf battle on behalf of the liquor industry,” Mason Tvert with the Marijuana Policy Project told the Post. “They seem to think it’s fine for patrons of bars and concert venues to get blackout drunk, but unacceptable for them to use a far less harmful substance like marijuana instead.”
As of now, city officials are still working to figure out exactly how to handle the passing of Initiative 300. The new law created a four-year pilot program to explore the realities of allowing marijuana consumption to be treated in a manner similar to alcohol. It is set to expire in 2020.
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