Denver voters will decide this November whether marijuana consumption should be allowed in bars and restaurants.
Just days after the rejection of a competing measure proposed by the Denver chapter of NORML, elections officials announced last week that the issue of social marijuana use would still go before voters this fall.
On Thursday, organizers with the Neighborhood-Supported Cannabis Consumption Pilot Program received confirmation from the Denver Elections Division that the group collected enough signatures to earn a spot in the upcoming election.
The initiative seeks to provide the business community with the freedom to set up indoor or outdoor consumption areas in their establishments where people can use cannabis products. However, businesses would not be permitted to sell or distribute marijuana to its customers, only provide them with a space to engage in responsible use.
Last Monday, elections officials determined that a similar initiative supported by Denver NORML—one calling for social use in private clubs—did not have enough signatures to advance to the ballot this year. Although the group submitted more than enough petitions to advance to the next level of its campaign, the Elections Division said that only around half of the signatures were within the range of eligibility, due to thousands of them coming from areas outside the city’s municipal area.
Although Amendment 64 did not come with a provision allowing social marijuana consumption when it passed in 2012, the issue has been a hot topic ever since the launch of Colorado’s recreational pot market. Supporters say that visitors and tourists need designated spots to smoke legal weed, because the activity is currently only permitted inside private residences. However, some city officials are concerned that giving people the option to use marijuana in public may create problems.
It is for this reason the proposed initiative is temporary. If voters approve the measure, it would establish a four-year pilot program that would allow the city to determine what works regarding social use, and what does not. The goal is to investigate a concept that could lead to a more definitive structure for a future social-use ordinance.