Denver voters have approved a ballot initiative to allow social cannabis use in certain private businesses. Initiated Ordinance 300 (I-300) was too close to call on Election Day, but once all the ballots were counted, it ended up receiving a solid 53.5% of the vote.
I-300 creates a pilot program for permitting private establishments to allow adult cannabis consumption in designated areas. The city will only issue permits to establishments that have received formal support from their officially recognized neighborhood organization or business-improvement district, and recipients will be required to follow a number of guidelines. A full description of I-300 is available on the Yes on 300 campaign's website.
The passage of I-300 is generating a ton of media attention around the country and abroad.
"This is a groundbreaking law that reflects the shift taking place in the public attitudes toward marijuana," Mason Tvert, Director of Communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, told Mashable.
"By allowing adults to use marijuana in certain private establishments, we can reduce the chances that they are going to use it in public, like on the street or in the park. This is a community-focused measure that ensures neighborhoods will have the final say over what is and is not allowed," Tvert said.
"We believe this will allow communities and businesses to test the waters to see what works, then move forward with the best plans possible. We are hopeful this will produce a system that can serve as a model for other cities and towns in Colorado and throughout the nation," Tvert told Mashable.
Backers of Initiated Ordinance 300 (I-300), a Denver ballot measure intended to permit cannabis consumption in certain private places in order to reduce it in public spaces, announced Tuesday that it had received several major political endorsements. The Democratic Party of Denver, New Era Colorado, State Sen. Irene Aguilar of Denver, and State Rep. Jonathan Singer have joined more than 100 local businesses and organizations that are encouraging Denver residents to vote “YES” on 300 to establish a Neighborhood-Supported Cannabis Consumption Pilot Program.
I-300 would permit certain private establishments to allow adult cannabis consumption in designated areas if they follow a number of guidelines. The city will only issue permits to establishments that have received formal support from their officially recognized neighborhood organization or business-improvement district. A full description of I-300 is available here.
I-300 received the support of nearly three-fourths of the voting members of the Denver Democratic Party’s Central Committee. Multiple precinct captains and party leaders spoke in favor of Initiative 300, while no members spoke in opposition. Sen. Aguilar was among party members who spoke in support of I-300, citing a need for places where tourists and residents can safely and legally consume cannabis if they do not have a private residence where they can do so.
On Tuesday afternoon, the D.C. Council voted to permanently ban any social consumption of marijuana other than inside a private residence, despite a public forum being scheduled that evening to explore the merits of continuing the ban.
Among the concerns voiced by activists is that the ban forces people who live in public housing, where consuming marijuana can lead to eviction, to break the law by smoking in public. This policy predominantly impacts poor people of color in the District, and many residents think that allowing social use clubs would go a long way toward addressing this issue. There may be options to overturn the ban, however.
Numerous people brought up the racial disparity in marijuana-related arrests, which continues even in the era of decriminalization and legalization—81.9 percent of the 259 public consumption arrests from July 17, 2014 (when public consumption became a criminal offense) to the end of 2015 were of black people, according to data from the Drug Policy Alliance.
Kate Bell, an attorney for the Marijuana Policy Project, said that the ban isn't the end of the road. "There are other avenues D.C. could explore," she told DCist. "We're not just talking about clubs. It's a much broader issue."
Nikolas Schiller of DCMJ has already written a draft referendum on the ban. But it's an open question whether the referendum, if passed, could be implemented given the Congressional rider that hamstrings the city's ability to regulate drug legalization. Bell says that MPP is working to ensure that the rider doesn't appear in next year's Congressional budget.
Residents can express their views at the ballot box. Information on registering to vote is available here, and if you are already registered you can update your information online here. Stay tuned: MPP will be publishing a voter guide before the June 14 primary election. Note that if you want to vote in a party’s primary election, you must be registered as a member of that party at least 30 days before the primary election.
Also, the Local Budget Autonomy Act may allow the District to tax and regulate marijuana using its own local funds this winter, after the new fiscal year begins. In addition, it is always possible for the mayor to use reserve funds to tax and regulate marijuana.
Finally, MPP will be attending the National Cannabis Festival on Saturday; stop by our booth and say hello if you are there.
The Alaska Marijuana Control Board voted on Friday to create a class of retail marijuana license that will allow onsite consumption. This is an important decision that benefits adult consumers, those who will be licensed to provide to them, and the communities that want to regulate use.
Despite clear language contained in Measure 2, some state staff members had advised the board that it could not authorize retail licenses to allow onsite consumption. Many of those who supported Measure 2 were concerned that the issue would be confused and needlessly delayed as the board deferred to lawmakers rather than exercise its own authority. Public comments submitted to the board overwhelmingly supported this change, and we applaud the board for taking this important step.
While the definition of “public,” adopted by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board in February, did improve with this change, it unfortunately still falls short of acknowledging the rights private business owners have under the law. Nonetheless, this decision marks an important moment in the rule-making process and a victory for those who worked so hard to make Alaska’s regulations successful.