It’s been well over a year since Colorado first introduced retail cannabis sales in U.S. Now, the same organizers responsible for bringing legal marijuana to the Rockies are working to pass a new initiative that would allow cannabis consumption in bars and restaurants.
Mason Tvert and Brian Vicente, the activists behind Amendment 64, the voter initiative that made Colorado the first state in the U.S. to end completely repeal prohibition, have drafted a new proposal that they feel confident will find its way to the ballot in Denver’s upcoming November election. Their goal is to take legalization a step further by allowing voters to decide whether people should be permitted to smoke cannabis in certain public establishments – ideally, those that already serve alcohol.
The proposal, aptly deemed “The Limited Social Marijuana Consumption Initiative,” would give places like bars and restaurants the right to section off a portion of their establishment for people to smoke cannabis. Organizers feel that since bars and dining establishments allow patrons to consume alcohol, there should also be an option available for those using legal marijuana.
“We’re proposing a narrow exemption to Denver’s current ban on social cannabis use by adults,” said Mason Tvert, communications director with the Marijuana Policy Project. “It would simply allow adults 21 and older to consume marijuana in designated areas and venues where only adults are allowed. This is allowing adults to have the option to use marijuana in certain venues that choose to allow it.”
Although the latest proposal doesn’t seek to allow these establishments to sell cannabis, it would allow certain places to designate indoor and outdoor areas for people who wanted to smoke. This would be done in a manner free from public view, as to not upset patrons who may be accompanied by children. In addition, those places that decided to take advantage of the ordinance would be forced to do so while respecting the restrictions of the statewide smoking ban.
Organizers claim they have taken on the responsibility of getting this initiative passed because they feel Denver has rolled over on the issue. They argue that while their proposal may be somewhat inadequate, it’s still better than the concept of limiting pot consumption to cannabis clubs.
The opposition, however, isn’t at all keen on the idea of allowing pot consumption in public places. Gina Carbone, a spokesperson with SMART Colorado, the group that attempted to stop Amendment 64 from becoming law, says she worries that allowing pot consumption in restaurants would have a negative impact on the City of Denver.
“The thoughts of it being used in restaurants and bars in places where kids can see this, it’s very disturbing,” said Carbone.
Yet, Tvert says the proposed ordinance is absolutely necessary for continued tourism and it would be done in a way that would not affect children.
“We need to give tourists who are adult marijuana consumers a place where they can legally consume,” he said. “We have a law that allows non-Colorado residents to purchase and consume marijuana, but it doesn’t necessarily allow them places to consume it. If they’re staying at a hotel that doesn’t allow it, they’re out of luck. And if people don’t want to see it on the streets or in a park, we need to provide establishments in which it can be consumed responsibly, out of the sight of children and others who don’t want to see it.”
Do you think people should be able to smoke cannabis in bar and clubs? Share your opinion in the comments.