Denver marijuana measure supporters cautiously optimistic

KUSA - It’s looking like we won’t know until Monday whether Denver voted to let businesses provide places for people to use marijuana.

“It's moving in the right direction,” Yes on 300 organizer Kayvan Khalatbari said. “Our margin keeps growing as the votes come in.”

The measure’s winning 51 to 49 percent, according to Denver County’s latest election update.

But election officials have 135,000 ballots left to process, and the measure’s ahead by about 5,600 votes.

Denver Elections Division spokesman Alton Dillard anticipates finishing the count Monday.

If Initiative 300 passes, it would create a four-year pilot program to give Denver businesses permits for people to consume marijuana on their premises.

Businesses would have to gain the support of neighborhood associations in their area and adhere to Colorado laws about not smoking indoors and limiting consumption to people 21 or older.

Marijuana dispensaries wouldn’t be able to apply for these permits because state law bans on-site consumption.

“By opening the door to marijuana use in any Denver restaurant, bar or other business, Initiative 300 will lead to an increase in drugged driving, threatening everyone on the roads … “ Protect Denver’s Atmosphere campaign manager Rachel O’Bryan wrote in an opinion piece for the Denver Post. “Allowing marijuana and alcohol consumption together creates a dangerous cocktail.”

Khalatbari thinks it’s more likely that yoga studios, coffee shops and massage parlors would apply for permits.

And he says public consumption is an issue that’s not going away.

Tourists who visit the state often lack a legal location to consume marijuana, and people who rent here in Denver face the same problem.

“And some folks simply don’t want to use it at home around their kids,” Khalatbari said.

The writers of both Nevada and California’s recreational marijuana measures included a clause about public consumption.

“I think we’re going to learn a lot about this environment and what’s reasonable and what best practices are,” Khalatbari said.

He also expects Colorado’s state legislature to take up a proposal next session allowing dispensaries to create their own public consumption spaces.

Copyright 2016 KUSA


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