Pubdate: Fri, 02 Sep 2016
Source: Denver Post (CO)
Copyright: 2016 The Denver Post Corp
Author: Jon Murray


Denver Voters Will Determine Social Use at Some Businesses.

Days after rejecting a competing measure for the November ballot, the 
Denver Elections Division on Thursday approved a proposed initiative 
that would allow social use of marijuana in some businesses.

City voters will decide whether regular businesses, such as bars or 
cafes or even yoga studios, should be able to create indoor or 
outdoor consumption areas for bring-your-own marijuana products, 
under certain conditions. The most significant condition would 
require that an application for an annual or temporary permit receive 
backing from a neighborhood group, such as a city-registered 
neighborhood organization or business improvement district.

That provision would give the neighborhood group the ability to 
suggest conditions on operation as city licensing officials consider 
a permit application.

In early August, backers including Kayvan Khalatbari of Denver Relief 
Consulting turned in ballot petitions containing what they said were 
10,800 signatures in support of the initiative they've named the 
Neighborhood-Supported Cannabis Consumption Pilot Program. It takes 
4,726 valid signatures from registered Denver voters to make the ballot.

Khalatbari said Thursday that backers soon would receive results from 
a poll they commissioned as they begin to campaign in favor of the 
initiative. They have signed up 50 businesses in support - with a 
goal of enlisting 500 - and will begin reaching out to neighborhood 
groups to discuss the measure and answer questions, he said.

"It's going to be an effort of these businesses and a lot of the 
cannabis industry," Khalatbari said. "We already have some of the 
bigger names of the cannabis industry" giving customers leaflets 
about the initiative. "We're really looking forward to engaging every 
single stakeholder - pro, con or neutral on this."

The Elections Division confirmed Thursday in a tweet that workers had 
verified enough signatures for the initiative to make the Nov. 8 ballot.

On Monday, the Elections Division said another social-use initiative, 
Denver NORML's proposal to allow private marijuana clubs, failed to 
submit enough valid signatures to make the ballot.

Denver city officials, including Mayor Michael Hancock, had not taken 
a position yet on either measure. But city attorneys raised questions 
about both during the drafting process, including whether state law 
fully allows cities to sanction some form of public consumption. A 
few Colorado cities and towns have allowed private marijuana clubs.

City marijuana policy spokesman Dan Rowland wrote in an e-mail that 
the certification of the social-use initiative will prompt a detailed 
review looking at the potential implications for the city, including 
its impact on marijuana regulations and how it might be affected by 
state law. Officials will share their analysis with the City Council.

"We look forward to the opportunity to continue exploring this issue 
and to the large, broad-ranging community conversation that needs to 
happen around social consumption of marijuana," Rowland said.

Both proposed initiatives had aimed to address what activists see as 
a lingering issue following Colorado voters' legalization of 
recreational marijuana sales and possession in 2012.

Amendment 64 did not allow for public use of marijuana, and under 
state and local laws, Denver residents have few places to consume 
marijuana outside their homes. That also poses a particular problem 
for many tourists, since most hotels and other lodging don't allow 
the use of marijuana, either.

The measure that's headed for the ballot would make changes to city 
ordinance to create consumption area permits. Businesses still would 
have to comply with the state's anti-smoking law indoors, and 
marijuana businesses would not be allowed to apply for the permits 
because of state license restrictions.

The initiative would set a four-year pilot period, requiring the city 
to study the measure's effectiveness. By the end of 2020, the City 
Council could allow it to expire, make it permanent or tweak its provisions.

Khalatbari and other activists, including some of the most prominent 
backers of Amendment 64, say their goal is that a handful of 
responsible businesses will lead the way in marijuana-friendly neighborhoods.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom