Marijuana plants sit in peat moss at the River Rock Cannabis grow facility in Denver. (Photo by Kathryn Scott Osler/The Denver Post)

New Denver NORML chapter on social pot use: ‘We want to get this done’

A newly formed local chapter of pro-marijuana group NORML says it plans to revive a social pot use ballot effort that other advocates dropped last summer.

Those activists had aimed to allow social pot use at bars and other businesses, but they withdrew their measure in September. Since then, the Marijuana Policy Project and law firm Vicente Sederberg have been discussing potential compromise ordinances with city officials as well as hotel and restaurant industry groups.

Barring a deal, they have said they could refile the ballot initiative this year.

NORML’s Denver chapter director gave a nod to the previous effort in a statement Friday announcing the new potential ballot measure for the November ballot. It hasn’t yet been drafted or filed with the city for review.

“We greatly appreciate the previous attempt to bring this issue to Denver voters, but we want to get this done,” said Jordan Person, the chapter’s executive director. “The need is obvious as residents and visitors continue to have no legal place other than private homes to enjoy a legal product with like-minded adults.”

Still undecided: whether NORML, which stands for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, would seek a similar law to last year’s proposal or take a narrower approach, perhaps by focusing on private cannabis clubs.

Person also noted Mayor Michael Hancock‘s recent comments to The Denver Post’s editorial board voicing a new openness to considering cannabis clubs. State legislators also have discussed potential bills, with cloudy prospects.

A request for comment from the Hancock administration hasn’t yet been returned.

Englewood OKs moratorium extension on cannabis clubs
iBake Englewood, a social cannabis club, hosts marijuana aficionados at an event on July 10, 2015. (Denver Post file)

Person said NORML’s Denver chapter was formed about four months ago and has more than 50 members. Its ballot plans have backing from NORML’s state chapter, board member Rachel K. Gillette confirmed.

The move comes after NORML’s founder and national legal counsel called the withdrawal of the earlier ballot proposal “embarrassing.”

The potential NORML ballot bid caught some of the other activists by surprise, but Mason Tvert of the Marijuana Policy Project said Friday that he could envision the two efforts converging — if the ongoing city talks fail.

“We hope to reach consensus (with city officials) about a sensible path forward in the coming months, and at the same time we are also beginning to plan for a 2016 initiative should it be needed,” Tvert wrote in an e-mail. “We want to work with everyone we can to bring about the best possible law for Denver, so we hope to speak with the Denver NORML folks soon.”

Jon Murray: 303-954-1405, or @JonMurray

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