(Rick Bowmer, Associated Press file)

Poll: Denver voters favor limited pot use in bars

A majority of Denver voters support an initiative that would allow “limited social marijuana consumption” in businesses such as bars, according to a poll commissioned by the group behind the proposal, The Cannabist has learned exclusively.

The poll results say 56 percent of likely Denver voters either strongly support (20 percent) or somewhat support (36 percent) the initiative, according to the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling.

For those against the initiative, 31 percent strongly oppose and 9 percent somewhat oppose it, while 5 percent said they weren’t sure. The automated telephone poll has a margin of error of 3.9 percentage points.

The pollsters asked whether voters would support allowing “the consumption of marijuana at private venues in Denver, provided that the owner of the venue permits the consumption, access to the venue is limited to individuals 21 years of age or older, smoking marijuana indoors is prohibited and any outdoor use is hidden from public view.”

The initiative’s primary authors are the Marijuana Policy Project’s Mason Tvert and Brian Vicente of cannabis-focused law firm Vicente Sederberg. They are gathering 5,000 signatures to get the question on Denver’s November ballot.

Another of the poll’s findings — that Denver residents, by a 4-to-1 ratio, believe that alcohol causes more problems in the city than marijuana — also favors their side of the contentious issue.

“Denver voters have made it quite clear that they support treating marijuana like alcohol,” said Tvert, a national pot activist and one of the primary authors behind Colorado’s original cannabis-legalizing Amendment 64. “Voters approved measures to that effect in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2012, and so it’s not surprising that we’re still seeing such strong support, even among a more conservative voting population in an off-year election.”

Public Policy Polling conducted the survey from June 12-15 by polling 629 likely voters in Denver. The poll ultimately included more responses from women (52 percent) and white people (66 percent).

The party breakdown of active, registered voters in Denver, as of last month, was 48 percent Democrat, 35 percent unaffiliated and 16 percent Republican — perhaps explaining why the poll’s breakdown favored Democrats (60 percent) to independents (23 percent) and Republicans (17 percent).

In the question that asked respondents if alcohol or marijuana caused more problems in Denver, 55 percent said alcohol, 13 percent said marijuana, 26 percent said both and 6 percent weren’t sure.

Long known for his marijuana-is-safer-than-alcohol mantra, Tvert wasn’t surprised at that question’s results.

“By more than a 4-to-1 margin, Denver voters cite alcohol over marijuana as a bigger source of problems in the city,” said Tvert. “Anyone who has spent time in LoDo on a weekend evening or walked down Colfax Avenue on any given day knows that alcohol contributes far more problems and far more severe problems than marijuana,” he said.