The sun rising over Denver, Colorado.

Sheila Sund

Supporters of Denver’s Social Use Initiative Call it a Win

Following a week of vote counting and a lead of more than 17,000 votes, Emmett Reistroffer, campaign director for Yes on 300, Denver’s social-use initiative, believe they’ve “exceeded the margin necessary to declare a winner.”

The pilot program allows Denver bar and restaurant owners and other businesses to apply for permits allowing for use of cannabis products so long as there is no indoor smoking. Patrons 21 and older would be permitted to bring and consume their own cannabis at establishments that gain approval from their neighborhood, a business district or a city-registered group. The new law allows indoor vaping and edible consumption, while smoking would be permitted in designated outdoor areas, so long as it’s not visible from the public right of way or within 100 feet from a school.

“We don’t want this in public,” Reistroffer said in a CBS4 report. “We want this in private places where it’s permitted, where it’s only for adults 21 and over and where the staff are trained to be in charge of these environments.”

Proponents of the initiative say the plan protects individuals who do not want to be exposed to cannabis, while giving people who live in public housing or in residences where the landlords prohibit smoking safe havens to use cannabis socially.

Opponents, however, are not conceding despite the vote totals. Rachel O’Bryan, campaign manager for the Protect Denver’s Atmosphere: Vote No on 300 Committee, said the 53 percent to 47 percent tally indicates that a large number of residents oppose the measure. The group plans on asking officials to “carefully consider implementation,” adding that they would “seek guidance” from the state Attorney General’s Office.

“We were told four years ago in the amendment that marijuana consumption would not be conducted openly and publicly,” O’Bryan said. “Now we’re going to have marijuana on rooftops and patios, that’s open and public, there’s no two ways about it.”

The measure will not officially be codified until the remaining ballots from military members and from registered voters living overseas have been counted.

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