Larry Johnson

Competing Social Use Initiatives Planned for Denver’s November Ballot

Two separate cannabis advocacy groups are working on competing ballot initiatives that would allow the social use of cannabis in quasi-public locations throughout Denver, the Denver Post reports.

The first proposal, put forward by the Denver chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), would create a system for the licensing and regulation of a new type of business: private cannabis clubs.

The other proposal — drafted cooperatively by the Marijuana Policy Project, the Vicente Sederberg law firm, and various Denver business owners — would allow most types of existing businesses, including bars and restaurants, to establish a 21-and-over cannabis consumption area. This consumption area would have to be separated from the rest of the business, and business owners would also have to seek approval from a local organization before moving forward with a designated cannabis consumption spot.

The NORML cannabis clubs proposal is about two months ahead of “The Neighborhood Approved Cannabis Consumption Pilot Program” in its petitioning process. According to Denver NORML’s executive director Jordan Person, the group’s all-volunteer petitioners are already halfway toward their goal of 4,800 verified Denver voter signatures.

Kayvan Khalatbari, the primary sponsor of the consumption areas proposal, said the group hopes to convince Denver NORML to drop its private clubs initiative because it continues to separate cannabis from typical Denver life, as opposed to integrating with it. “I just think it’s more considerate of all the things we’ve learned in the cannabis industry here in the last six months or a year, with all the stakeholders and their input,” Khalatbari said.

Person told the Denver Post that such a withdrawal is unlikely: “We have no reason to withdraw when we’ve made it so far. That would be ridiculous.”

If both measures are passed, it’s currently unclear what would happen. Person believes that each proposal would take effect, but Khalatbari said that the proposal with the most votes would overrule the other.

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