By Phil Samuelson
Denver voters made their wishes regarding public cannabis consumption known in this year’s election by passing Ordinance 300, which opens the door for marijuana consumption in designated businesses.
Does this mean Denver will become the new American Amsterdam, where locals and tourist alike can blaze a joint openly in hash bars and pot-selling coffee shops? Well, not exactly. The new ordinance takes some explaining—and don’t expect consumption areas to proliferate around the city immediately.
What ordinance 300 does do is increase consumption areas to locations that comply with certain criteria. First, public consumption of marijuana will not occur in any areas where children congregate or are present, so consider locations around schools or parks off limits. And customers at The Green Solution stores and other cannabis retailers won’t be able light up at those locations, either. Consumption at businesses where marijuana is sold is still a strict no-no.
While these limitations may sound overly restrictive, there are quite a few new consumption liberties that will arise. First, prior to 300’s passage, legal consumption was basically limited to private residences or 420-friendly hotels. Now, a wide variety of businesses can apply for a social use licenses—which may dramatically increase legal consumption areas. Can using marijuana occur where alcohol is served? Possibly, but the local community must approve it, and community buy-in is an important aspect of the new rules, so conditions may vary depending on the business and, more importantly, the location. Local communities will have some ground rules, with odor restriction and access to minors being two certainties.
Another thing: Colorado’s Clean Air Act bans smoking in most indoor locations–except cigar bars–but vaping and edibles consumption are strong possibilities indoors. For smoking in outdoor areas at street level like patios, the consumption area must be away from public view.
Hopefully the new ordinance won’t be a buzzkill for cannabis lovers—that’s far from the point of adopting it. Denver residents will see increased legal marijuana consumption areas in licensed businesses that follow yet-to-be-determined rules.
So, the days of strolling down the 16th Street Mall with a smoldering 6-foot bong in your hand aren’t quite here yet, but Colorado continues to loosen its grip on cannabis restrictions. A word to the wise: brush up on Ordinance 300 and how it specifically impacts your local community within Denver.
Ordinance 300–it’s a good thing for those who love the plant!