The same activists who in 2012 successfully legalized the cultivation, sale and use of recreational marijuana in Colorado have started their next big initiative: the push to allow pot consumption in places now off-limits.
Activists want a measure on Denver’s November ballot that asks voters to OK allowing marijuana consumption in commercial establishments — including bars and clubs — that meet certain guidelines.
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They hope to get the question approved by the clerk and recorder’s office and gather more than 4,700 signatures before summer’s end.
In order to get the proposal on the November 2015 ballot, Assistant City Attorney David Broadwell said the petition would have to be “signed, sealed and delivered” by Sept. 3.
“We’re confident that voters will agree that adults should be able to use marijuana socially in private venues when around other adults,” backer Mason Tvert said prior to a meeting about the measure late Wednesday afternoon with a Denver assistant city attorney and others.
A ban on consumption in public has inspired public-versus-private debates that have led to the raids and closures of several cannabis clubs.
“Denver has been overly restrictive,” said fellow activist Brian Vicente. “We believe that’s unconstituional.”
Most noteworthy about the proposal by Tvert and Vicente is that it’s significantly more liberal and wide-reaching than previous ideas involving cannabis-only clubs floated by state Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont, and others.
“We’re proposing a narrow exemption to Denver’s current ban on social cannabis use by adults,” said Tvert, the Denver-based communications director for 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.”
Instead of limiting marijuana use to cannabis clubs that would operate separately from bars serving alcohol — a model already in place in cities such as Toronto — this proposal would allow existing bars, clubs and venues to dedicate 21-and-older spaces to indoor vaporizing and outdoor, out-of-public-sight smoking, Tvert said.
The areas allotted for smoking would have to conform to the state ban on indoor smoking.