DENVER, CO - August 12, 2016: Denver Elections official Dominique Wortham counts and stamps signatures on a public marijuana use ballot initiative petition. Backers of a Denver initiative that would allow adults to consume cannabis in regulated, neighborhood-approved consumption spaces submit a petition to city officials on Friday, August 12, 2016 with more than twice the number of voter signatures needed to qualify for the November ballot. (Photo by Vince Chandler / The Denver Post)

Imagining a more 420-friendly city: What if social pot use becomes a reality?

Denver voters soon will get to decide whether to allow social pot use in some businesses within the Mile High City.

The city’s Elections Division recently OK’d a ballot initiative that would let businesses — be them yoga studios, bars or cafes — to create indoor or outdoor consumption areas for bring-your-own cannabis products. The proposed measure comes with some catches, notably that the businesses would have to get the blessing of a city-registered neighborhood group or a business improvement district.

Kayvan Khalatbari, lead proponent for the Neighborhood-Supported Cannabis Consumption Pilot Program, and Brad Bogus, the new general manager of the Cannabist, stop by The Cannabist Show to chat with Cannabist editor-in-chief Ricardo Baca about what Denver would look like if the first-of-its-kind measure were to pass.

“I think there’s these little additions to these businesses, that there’s an expansion of the business model that exists right now,” Khalatbari says. “They’re not going to drastically change, though.”

A coffee shop may choose to carve out an area in a back room that’s designated for consumption. A bar may section off part of its outdoor courtyard for vaporization, he says.

“This isn’t flipping the switch on something crazy, you know, wackadoodle,” he says. “This is something that’s already happening that we’re simply trying to maneuver and push into places that are regulated, spaces that are regulated and have some sort of supervision over them.”

Referencing his own businesses, pizzeria Sexy Pizza and comedy club Sexpot Comedy, Khalatbari says that adoption to the proposed measure would vary greatly. Sexpot Comedy was created as a place where people could consume cannabis while enjoying comedy, while Sexy Pizza restaurants cater to families.

“Sexy Pizza, they’re both establishments where a lot of families frequent, so I don’t see us engaging in this, because it can’t be in places where children congregate,” he says. “A pizzeria is a place where children congregate.”

Bogus, like Khalatbari, sees it as a natural progression of Colorado Amendment 64 and another avenue to break down Prohibition-like restrictions for a legal industry.

“If there’s already an economy here and there’s an industry that’s regulated and we can partake in that as citizens, we should also be able to use those substances in places where it’s allowed,” Bogus says.

The measure also would help Colorado stay at the forefront of the cannabis industry’s evolution, Khalatbari says, noting states such as California and Nevada could pass recreational measures that allow for some public consumption.

“This is just the opportunity for us to continue doing what Colorado’s been doing very well over the last four or five years and setting the pace and the trend with how this should be operated,” he says.

Watch the full episode of The Cannabist Show.

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