Pubdate: Thu, 20 Aug 2015
Source: Boulder Weekly (CO)
Copyright: 2015 Boulder Weekly
Author: Leland Rucker


One of the conundrums surrounding the implementation of Amendment 64 
is that while you can buy marijuana in Colorado, there aren't many 
places where you can legally use it in a social setting. Citizens are 
pretty much limited to their homes or a friend's house or backyard. 
For a tourist, it's even more vexing: you're often stuck with using 
it in your hotel room, not the most attractive place to enjoy the 
benefits of either cannabis or Colorado.

Mason Tvert of the Marijuana Policy Project and attorney Brian 
Vicente are spearheading a proposal that would allow marijuana usage 
in public places in Denver. It adheres strictly to the spirit of 
Amendment 64, which makes the Campaign for Limited Social Use a 
measure that other municipalities and cannabis users should be 
watching closely.

Though 64 is intended to treat marijuana like alcohol, in this case, 
the state has fallen short. There are few places that allow the more 
than 700,000 admitted marijuana users in the state to gather with 
friends over a vaporizer as you might over a craft beer or cup of coffee.

Police aren't seeing significant problems associated with marijuana, 
but around the state, and especially in Denver, hundreds of public 
consumption citations are issued, and still it's not unusual to smell 
cannabis while walking on the 16th Street Mall or any business 
district in Boulder or Denver.

Tvert points out that Amendment 64 allows public consumption: 
"Nothing in this section shall prohibit a person, employer, school, 
hospital, detention facility, corporation or any other entity who 
occupies, owns or controls a property from prohibiting or otherwise 
regulating the possession, consumption, use, display, transfer, 
distribution, sale, transportation, or growing of marijuana on or in 
that property."

The problem is that the City of Denver has created an overly broad 
definition of what constitutes public use, Tvert says. "Rather than 
litigating, we decided to clarify what public use means."

Specifically, the proposal would allow social cannabis consumption by 
adults in establishments that choose to allow it. It will not change 
the law that disallows cannabis use in public places like sidewalks, 
alleys or parks. Consumption will only be allowed in establishments 
or designated areas restricted to adults 21 years of age or older, 
and they must be out of sight of people outside the restricted 
consumption areas.

Any establishment that chooses to allow social cannabis use will be 
required to comply with the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act, which 
means only non-smokeable forms of cannabis, such as vaporizers, will 
be allowed indoors. Smoking would only be permitted in areas where 
smoking is currently allowed. Venues or businesses that currently 
allow alcohol consumption would have the option of allowing the 
consumption of cannabis, and new establishments allowing cannabis 
users would be subject to regulation similar to alcohol.

Some argue that mixing marijuana and alcohol isn't a good idea, but 
Tvert says the ordinance will give bar owners and police a better way 
to deal with intoxication rather than just giving out tickets. "It's 
pretty naive to think that people won't be using marijuana outside of 
places and in places where we don't want them using," he says. "This 
gives a leg up to establishment owners to be able to identify people 
who are intoxicated. Right now you don't know. Under this, people who 
are using marijuana might have a green wristband. That way bartenders 
or workers can decide to take a closer look before serving them another drink."

The media emphasis has been on alcohol establishments, but as Tvert 
points out, the proposal isn't aimed strictly at bars and taverns. 
"In fact, they might not be the most likely beneficiaries of this." 
He sees it aiding art galleries, boutiques and other establishments 
and businesses that might want to allow marijuana consumption as they 
do alcohol for parties, gatherings and special events, like the 
classical music concerts in Denver last year.

The group submitted more than 10,000 signatures, more than twice the 
4,726 valid voters needed. A Public Policy Poll showed 56 percent of 
voters favoring it, about the same percentage that supported Amendment 64.

This issue won't go away. There are more than 60,000 marijuana users 
in Boulder County, and as City Council begins to look at marijuana 
regulations this fall, let your elected officials know that you want 
marijuana to be treated like alcohol here, too. The Denver proposal 
is a great place to begin the conversation.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom