Marijuana activist Emmett Reistroffer and cannabis consultant Kayvan Khalatbari deliver signatures for a public cannabis use ballot initiative to the Denver election officials on Aug. 12, 2016. Initiative 300 would allow businesses in Denver to apply for permits to let customers bring and consume their own marijuana. (Vince Chandler, The Denver Post)

Yes on Initiative 300: Denver measure is a reasonable test of social pot use

In so many ways, Colorado’s experiment with legal cannabis sales has debunked reefer-madness fears of the decades-long U.S. war on drugs. State and local regulations and the industry’s understandable desire to prove it can peacefully coexist here have, on the whole, shown that allowing marijuana for sale hardly leads to widespread ruination.

But the fruits of legalization have brought big change. And we sympathize with criticisms from those alarmed by the prevalence of pot shops and smelly warehouses — and from illegal toking and vaping in the streets and alleys and parks.

And what about gripes from tourists who wish to try some legal Colorado weed, or taxpaying residents unable to use it at home because of pressures from family, condo associations, housing authorities and apartment rules? What about folks who want to enjoy getting high in the same way many imbibe alcohol together? Where are they supposed to go?

Thankfully, a four-year pilot program that would allow restricted use of pot in permitted Denver businesses might yield some relief for the problem of public use, and we ask that voters approve Initiative 300.

Should it work, Colorado’s capital city would provide a welcome solution for users to enjoy cannabis together, without harming the public. Should it run into problems, its language and intent allow for corrections along the way and also an exit back to the drawing board.

We say drawing board because the crux of our support for 300 rests on the obvious fact the city will have to soon figure out this problem. How does it make sense to have an industry this developed without a social-use component factored in?

The pilot program would require businesses that wish to allow bring-your-own cannabis to gain significant community buy-in. Business owners would have to negotiate with either a neighborhood organization or business improvement district — many of which have overlapping interests and board members — to set restrictions governing how and where and what times of the day pot could be used.

Such a permit system goes beyond normal city regulations for businesses, and suggests the kind of willingness to compromise and work together that seems reasonable for such a roll-out.

Smoking of the drug would have to comply with the state Clean Indoor Air Act. Any use would be limited to adults 21 and older. Businesses would have to be 1,000 feet from schools. The City Council could scrap it after four years if the experiment seems unworkable, or after six months if it seems a bust.

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