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Initiated Ordinance 300 Backers Raise Concerns About Final Draft Rules For Denver’s Neighborhood-Supported Cannabis Consumption Pilot Program

DENVER — Backers of Denver ballot initiative 300 (I-300) which would allow adults to consume cannabis in designated, neighborhood-supported consumption areas, announced today, the campaign is calling on the Department of Excise and Licenses to reconsider many of the proposed rules. Campaign supporters and local businesses are expressing concerns that the proposed rules will place unnecessary burdens on consumers and businesses and significantly hinder the success of the pilot program. See the attached letter campaign supporters are currently signing on to, which as of today has nearly 100 local supporters signed on. The campaign intends to submit the letter to the Department before the hearing on June 13.

Spokespeople for the campaign are available to schedule interviews with the press, and provided the following statements:

“We have seen an overwhelming show of support for this initiative among Denver residents and by spectators from around the world,” said Kayvan S.T. Khalatbari, the lead proponent of the initiative. “They are excited about the possibility of providing adults with legal and legitimate spaces where they can consume cannabis with other adults. While we are eager to finally see the program go into effect, we are concerned that not nearly as many businesses can participate as our campaign intended, as a result of new restrictions proposed by the city.”

“The Social Consumption Advisory Committee held many productive discussions about proposed rules, but ultimately when the public came out to provide input – their message was overwhelming clear that we should move forward and implement I-300 without so many restrictions,” said Emmett Reistroffer, the Campaign Director for I-300 and a participant on the city’s Social Consumption Advisory Committee. “We’re still fighting to overcome stigma that is rooted in a history of prohibition, and now it appears the city is trying to keep consumers hidden and as far away from the mainstream as possible. We ended prohibition in Colorado with a goal to overcome that stigma and regulate cannabis like alcohol, which includes providing responsible adults with legitimate locations to consume.”

 

Soon after the final draft rules were released, campaign proponents began to review the proposed rules and meet with key stakeholders, including consumers and local businesses to discuss the impacts. After hearing widespread concerns that the rules circumvent the intent of the initiative and significantly limit the number of businesses that can participate, campaign proponents filed CORA requests, met with Department officials, and released the following statement:

We are glad city officials are moving forward with implementing the voter- approved initiative to permit social cannabis consumption in certain venues, but we have strong concerns about some of the unreasonable rules they have proposed. Cannabis is a legal product for adults in Denver, and voters have repeatedly asked that it be treated similarly to alcohol. The city’s proposed rules fail to do that and treat cannabis in a far more restrictive fashion despite it being a far less harmful substance to consumers and to the community. Why should adults have to sign an acknowledgment form every time they enter an area where cannabis consumption is allowed, when such a requirement would be unthinkable when it comes to venues that allow alcohol consumption? Why should cannabis consumption areas need to be located twice as far away from public recreation centers and childcare facilities as bars and other venues that serve alcohol? Why should cannabis consumption be prohibited on a rooftop deck solely because it is visible to someone standing on the roof of an adjacent building? The goal of Initiative 300 was to end the unfair treatment of cannabis consumers, but some of the proposed rules reinforce the stigma it was intended to break. Prohibiting liquor-licensed establishments from allowing cannabis consumption areas disqualifies virtually every entertainment venue in town. These unnecessary and overly burdensome rules will deter businesses from seeking permits, in which case consumption will continue to take place in non-permitted areas. If permitted cannabis consumption areas are not allowed inside these businesses, the city will have to deal with it taking place outside on the streets and in the alleys surrounding them.

 

The following organizations and local leaders formally endorsed I-300 before last year’s election:

 

In addition to these major endorsements, more than 100 local businesses and organizations endorsed I-300, and 53.7% (168,995 voters) supported the initiative in last year’s general election. The full list of endorsements, text of the initiative and more information is available on the campaign’s website at www.socialuse.org