A little over a year ago, it was something unfathomable: pot consumption at your favorite business. Walk in, roll or pack your favorite strain, and lazily puff away as you read, watch sports, or hang out with friends.
But back in November, Denver residents approved Ordinance 300 by a 53-47 margin allowing just that.
Dan Rowland, with the city's Excise and Licenses office, says regulators have tackled a bear previously unseen by any bureaucrat in the country. By Friday afternoon, the city adopted the rules and regulations for those required permits and will begin accepting applications as early as Aug. 31.
It's not clear how early the first permit could be issued, but Rowland says the hoops businesses will have to jump through are - at least on paper - considerably less than, say, obtaining a liquor or marijuana dispensary license.
"If you look at the liquor codes and the marijuana codes for the city of Denver, they are long," Rowland says. "And there are tons of details in there and I would say these rules aren't necessarily to that level."
State law had to be included in these ordinances, which bar pot consumption at places that sell marijuana or alcohol - those rules are included in the permits.
Businesses also have to be a good distance away from places like schools and rehab facilities.
Also, you must be 21 to even access a 'designated consumption area' and that area must have someone watching it at all times.
These consumption areas can't be anywhere near the view of the public (another state law) and must comply with the Denver Clean Indoor Air Act, meaning no smoking indoors in almost all places. Rowland says that more than likely means businesses will have to create covered patios or rooftop areas with a small barrier.
"It is truly a standalone business license type in that there is really nothing out there like it," Rowland says.
Licenses are set to cost $1,000 and be good for a year or for single special event use.
These rules are a part of a four-year pilot program. Since it's a city ordinance, city council members can review and vote to make changes at any time, if need be.
Rowland says he doesn't think city council members will change the ordinance any time soon.
"They've indicated that they were very happy with the process that we've put in place to come up with all these rules," he says. "I think they're more than happy to see how this sort of rolls out to see how the pilot program goes."
He adds they'll review it just like any other city ordinance come 2020 - which is when they ordinance requires them to.
WHEN IT PASSED | Social marijuana use is coming to Denver
The rules were only supposed to take 60 days to hammer out, but a committee created by the excise office, the Social Consumption Advisory Committee, met six times over the first half of the year to hammer out the rules (which you can read in full at the bottom of this post) and filed them June 30.
Even though it's less than liquor spots, pot cafes will be sitting under quite a few regulations, including:
- They must explain how they'll stop over-consumption
- They must show how they'll curb 'smoking and driving'
- They must clarify how they'll clean rentable paraphernalia
- They've got to go through a public hearing process
- They'll have to provide a training program to employees
It sounds as though pot cafes will need to be places 1) away from other bars 2) nowhere near schools 3) have outdoor smoking places and 4) can't be seen by the public.
"Like I said, this is something completely different," Rowland says.
We're reached out to the Yes on 300 organizers and No on 300 organizers for comment and will continue following this story as it develops. Read the full list of adopted rules and regulations below: