Denver First U.S. City to Allow Social Pot Use

Thursday, November 17, 2016

During last week’s election, Denver voters approved an initiative that will allow private businesses to permit social cannabis use by adults. The initiative passed with the support of 53.4% of the city’s voters.

Implementation of the measure will solve a longstanding problem in Denver: where to consume legally purchased cannabis.

Although Colorado legalized recreational use in 2012, Amendment 64 does not allow for public use of marijuana. This puts tourists to the city in a bind–outside of the few pot-friendly hotels, there’s not really any legal place to consume marijuana.

Denver will be the first city in the U.S. to implement a social use measure, and businesses could start receiving permits by the end of January.

Business owners will be able to create indoor or outdoor marijuana consumption areas, provided they meet certain requirements. Businesses interested in applying for a permit from the City of Denver must also have approval from their local neighborhood association or business group.

Kayvan Khalatbari, one of the lead proponents of Initiative 300, said in a statement Tuesday, “This is a victory for cannabis consumers who, like alcohol consumers, simply want the option to enjoy cannabis in social settings.”

A wide range of businesses are set to profit from the measure–like yoga studios, art galleries, coffee shops, or concert venues–and could change the social cannabis landscape in Denver.

However, there are a few things that won’t change: cannabis consumption is still 21-and up, and any indoor cannabis use must adhere to the Colorado Clean Air Act, meaning vape only. Smoking in designated areas outdoors is allowed, provided it’s not visible to the public.

Businesses will not be allowed to sell cannabis on site. Social cannabis consumption is strictly bring-your-own weed. Marijuana businesses, including dispensaries, will not be allowed to apply to the program because of state license restrictions.

The initiative is a pilot program meant to last four years, until the end of 2020. At that point, City Council has the option of making changes, making it permanent, or allowing it to expire.