Wednesday November 16, 2016
Colorado is yet again at the forefront of progressive cannabis legislation, as Denver has just passed Initiative 300 supporting public cannabis consumption. With a current leading margin of 21,120 votes and only an estimated 6,000 ballots remaining, the winning outcome, with 53.4% voter support, is all but official. The passing of Initiative 300 marks an historic moment for the cannabis industry, as it is the first time public consumption legislation will be implemented in the United States.
What You Need To Know About Initiative 300
The result of the vote, which will be officially certified on November 22, was tightly contested to the very end. Because of the close contention, the conclusion simmered as supporters awaited eagerly on the edge of their seats for the final verdict. On top of the neck-and-neck finish, a surge of last-minute ballots received on the final days of polling prolonged the outcome even further. Ultimately, the measure passed and was declared a victory by its stalwart supporters. Cannabis activist, Mason Tvert, weighed in on the issue in a recent press conference, stating that he believes the passed measure will set an example on a national level.
Under Initiative 300, businesses interested in consenting public cannabis use will be able to seek a permit allowing 21 and over consumption areas. All businesses wanting to apply must first have support from an eligible neighborhood or business group. Essentially, they must show their support for the group and create a mutually beneficial relationship. This stipulation to the Initiative creates bonds between businesses and communities, and builds a socially responsible image regarding the cannabis industry.
Consumption areas can either be outdoors out of direct public sight (permitting smoking), or indoors (permitting vaping and edibles). Businesses are prohibited from selling or providing cannabis to patrons, so customers are required to bring their own cannabis products to enjoy at their leisure.
Initiative 300 is defined as a four-year pilot program, meaning it will expire if a permanent decision is not reached by the end of 2020. Additionally, with a two-thirds majority, the city council will have the option to repeal or amend the measure based on assessment of functionality.
What Businesses are Eligible?
Pretty much any regular business will be allowed to apply for a permit (dispensaries and other licensed cannabis facilities are prohibited under MED law). From bars to restaurants, and even art galleries or record stores, businesses will have the option to allow social cannabis use on their premises. That means no more illegal public usage, as cannabis enthusiasts will now have a legal outlet to consume.
This measure is especially great for tourists or residents who don’t have access to private property to legally consume cannabis. They can now consume worry-free in a socially accepted environment, comparable to how alcohol is publicly consumed.
Businesses will be able to begin applying for permits as soon as late January. In the meantime, the City of Denver is charged with creating the framework for license issuance and commencement of consumption allowance. Undeniably, this marks the beginning of a new era for cannabis and a fresh approach to how we consume in public.
What Does This Mean for Tourists, Local Businesses, and the Cannabis Industry?
The impact of Initiative 300 will be profoundly positive in many aspects. On a localized level, the creation of a safe-haven for tourists to legally consume cannabis will avert a large portion of illegal consumption, and provide a comfortable setting for them to enjoy their cannabis experience. A lot of contention for cannabis consumers comes from illegal usage and those straying from legal boundaries. By reducing illegal public consumption, a healthy buffer can be created between consumers and non-consumers. Establishing this buffer is a key proponent towards undoing negative connotations and perceptions surrounding cannabis.
Local businesses supporting Initiative 300 play a key role in the progression of cannabis normalization. On top of having an opportunity to appeal to a new market of consumer, businesses allowing cannabis consumption can help introduce the plant in a familiar and comfortable setting. If cannabis is seen more and more in a regular setting, opponents of its legalization will become increasingly desensitized to negative propaganda surrounding it. There are many people who are against alcohol, but it has become so engrained in American culture that it is tolerated and accepted in a regulated social setting, Cannabis rightfully deserves the same treatment, and Initiative 300 has the opportunity to serve as nation-wide justification for continued reform and legislative progression regarding public usage.
Assimilating cannabis to alcohol is a critical step towards normalization of the cannabis plant. With eight out of the nine states recently passing measures approving medical or recreational marijuana, it is evident that widespread acceptance is on the verge of becoming a reality. The passing of Initiative 300 will undoubtedly help amend negative stigma towards cannabis by helping create a responsible and organized perception of the plant, how it is consumed, and those who consume it.
On a broader level, Colorado remains a leader and pioneer in the cannabis industry. States passing cannabis measures will continue looking to Colorado for guidance on how to structure and create their own laws and statutes. As the first state to pass a public consumption measure, Colorado is primed to set the mark for effective public usage and assimilation into normalized culture. A truly exciting, unexplored frontier awaits, and Colorado is clearly ready to charge onward into a progressively bright future.
What do you think of Initiative 300? Will it help change the perception of cannabis? Comment below!