Initiative for social marijuana use in Denver passes

DENVER -- It has been too close to call for a week, but a measure allowing the consumption of marijuana in Denver businesses -- from yoga studios to bars -- passed Tuesday after the opposition conceded.

Initiative 300 allows businesses to apply for a permit and set up a cannabis consumption area. It could be inside or an outside smoking patio. But that patio cannot be visible from a street.

However, the businesses must get approval from a neighborhood organization or the local business district to get the license. That approval will be a big part of the permitting process and that is where the opposition could crop up.

On Tuesday, at least two Denver neighborhoods said they were ready to review applications.

"This is going to be a win-win for everyone," said Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the measure.

Where to consume marijuana has always been a point of contention in Denver. When Amendment 64 passed in 2012, it said marijuana could not be consumed in public, leaving many tourists with nowhere to smoke because many hotels ban smoking.

The new measure allows any private business -- except a dispensary -- to ask for a consumption permit. State law currently bans dispensaries from allowing consumption.

The Denver City Council will have to quickly put together a task force that will decide how the city will issue the licenses to businesses that want to allow smoking marijuana on their property.

A city official said it is unlikely any permits will be officially issued for many months. The city council has 60 days to write the rules.

The opposition expressed disappointment as they conceded, with Rachel O'Bryan calling on people to contact their neighborhood association if they are upset.

"It's time to get to know your city council rep and your neighborhood organization," O'Bryan said.