Bill to allow marijuana use in Denver businesses will be on November ballot

DENVER -- An initiative that would allow businesses to obtain city permits to create designated areas for marijuana consumption will now be on the November ballot, it was announced Thursday.

The Denver Election division said the Neighborhood-Supported Cannabis Consumption Initiative collected enough signature to send it to voters.

“Adults who can legally purchase and possess cannabis need places where they can consume it safely while socializing with other adults,” Kayvan S.T. Khalatbari, the lead proponent of the initiative, said in a statement.

"This is a thoughtfully drafted measure that will reduce the likelihood of adults consuming in public and gives communities the power to decide where consumption should be allowed.”

The bill could provide a legal place for tourists to consume cannabis because hotels often ban the use.

The  businesses would have to have "at least one additional approval from a registered neighborhood organization" before applying for a permit, and patrons would need to bring their own cannabis.

There are several additional restrictions included in the bill:

  • The of use cannabis will not be allowed in public places, such as sidewalks, alleys, or parks, or within 1,000 feet of anywhere children congregate.
  • Cannabis consumption will only be allowed in establishments or areas within establishments that are restricted to adults 21 years old or older, and not visible to individuals outside of the restricted areas where consumption is allowed.
  • Only nonsmokable forms of cannabis such as vaporizers will be allowed indoors. Smoking cannabis will only be allowed in areas where smoking is currently allowed and that are not visible to the public.

“We already have about 50 businesses in support of this,” Khalatbari said. “Many of them are noncannabis businesses so coffee shops, restaurants, entertainment venues, massage parlors, yoga studios.”

If Denver voters approved the initiative, it would create a four-year pilot program.

The bill would require Denver to create a task force to study the impacts of cannabis consumption permits on the city. The program ends earlier if city leaders pass comprehensive regulations governing cannabis consumption.