Should Smoking Cannabis In Public Be Allowed?
Denver may very well be the first city in the United States to permit operation of cannabis clubs and public use. Cafes are expected to aggressively apply for social use licenses, but it isn’t surprising that yoga studios and art galleries are also interested in securing permits due to high demand.
It’s about time that such a law is passed, especially in Colorado where it’s perfectly legal to buy and possess cannabis, but it’s still illegal to consume it publicly. While this isn’t really a problem for locals who can smoke as much as they want in their homes, it’s challenging for out-of-state visitors who want to enjoy the pot they’ve just bought in a licensed dispensary.
During last November’s elections, Colorado voted in the social use measure although the ballot wasn’t clear about how cannabis can be consumed. The measure pretty much just said that pot can’t be smoked indoors and that consumers need to be at least 21 years of age.
The workgroup for public use consists of Denver’s cannabis regulators, business owners, as well as opponents of cannabis, all of whom will be working together to create a set of regulations. Colorado’s Liquor Control Board already said that businesses that already have a liquor license can allow pot use, which means that bars, restaurants, and event spaces that serve booze are out of the question for public use.
There isn’t a set deadline to finalize the regulations, although supporters hope that applications will already be accepted by summer.
Emmett Reistroffer, a consultant for the cannabis industry who ran a campaign last year for public cannabis use, says that regulations will eventually need neighborhood approvals for coffee shops and clubs. He recently arranged a public meeting to discuss the social use measure and invited businesses who were interested to participate, and a couple dozen other businesses also showed up to learn more. “There are plenty of places in Denver where you can find neighbors who want this kind of establishment,” Reistroffer says.
Reistroffer adds, "We don't want this around children, we all agree.” However he discouraged regulators from being too strict, saying that there is no law which forbids adults from consuming alcohol in front of children.
The measure doesn’t permit participating establishments to sell the plant in any form, which means that there won’t be any control on how much patrons will be consuming while on the premises. Patrons will need to resort to other methods of consuming cannabis that won’t entail smoking, such as edibles.
There is a pending bill in state legislature which will allow cannabis clubs throughout Colorado.
“This is a victory for cannabis consumers who, like alcohol consumers, simply want the option to enjoy cannabis in social settings,” according to Kayvan Khalatbari, co-owner of Denver Relief Consulting, in an interview with the Denver Post last November. “It is also a victory for the city of Denver, its diverse neighborhoods and those who don’t consume cannabis, as it will reduce the likelihood that adults will resort to consuming in public.”