City finalizes rules for pot cafes; First ones could open before 2018

The city of Denver is undergoing a change unlike any other city in the country.

DENVER - Friday afternoon, Denver finalized its plan to begin the licensure of businesses who want to allow marijuana consumption.

"I really am excited to think about coffee shops and art venues, places where I can go with my friends to use cannabis responsibly," said Emmett Reistroffer.

Reistroffer is the campaign director for Initiative 300, which voters approved in 2016. He was part of the process for developing rules that no American city has ever developed before.

"Our goal from the beginning was to protect the rights of both cannabis consumers and non-consumers so we all can enjoy Denver," Reistroffer said.

Rachel O'Bryan has also been involved. She led the campaign against Initiative 300 with a group called Protect Denver's Atmosphere. She believes the rules can work.

"I think they are a fair compromise," she said. "We had everyone at the table."

She likes the provision for public input regarding these businesses.

"Getting the same rules around public hearings to apply to these consumption areas that apply to liquor stores and marijuana shops," O'Bryan said.

But she does have concerns regarding people consumption of marijuana edibles.

"Edibles can take up to four hours for the THC to peak and yet we can't keep someone who consumes a marijuana edible off the street that long," O'Bryan said.

The cannabis consumption businesses must follow the same restrictions as marijuana shops. They can't within 1000 feet of schools, day cares, or treatment centers. Plus, there must be no access to kids. The consumption licenses will be monitored like liquor licenses according to Dan Rowland with Denver Excise and Licenses.

"We want to make sure that we're implementing the will of the voters that doesn't negatively affect Denver residents as a whole," Rowland said.

O'Bryan believes more restrictions should have been added with regards to where people live.

"We do not have a buffer zone written into the rules between marijuana consumption areas and homes," O'Bryan said.

Reistroffer believes the restrictions are too tough already.

"I think the notion that we need more buffer zones is obnoxious," Reistroffer said. "These rules go so far that we can't even get a permit in a place like the Santa Fe Art District."

He worries that the regulations may be undermining what the voters want.

"There's still a lot of fear dominating this discussion and it's going to be very difficult for businesses to begin getting these permits," Reistroffer said.

Rowland believes the city has a good plan. The city will start taking applications for cannabis consumption at the end of August.

"There are lots of pockets throughout the city, in fact, in some places very large swaths of areas where these are gonna be allowed to locate," Rowland said.

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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