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National NORML Board of Directors Endorses Denver Social Use Ballot Initiative 300

  • by Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel September 22, 2016

    Legalize marijuanaMeeting at our board meeting in Boston this past Friday, held in conjunction with the Boston Freedom Rally, the national NORML board of Directors endorsed Denver Social Use Initiative 300, the Neighborhood-Supported Cannabis Consumption Pilot Program.

    Under current law, marijuana can be legally smoked only in a private home, or in one of only a few marijuana-friendly hotels in the state. Most tourists and many renters have no place where they can legally consume marijuana that they legally buy in Colorado. This is not a realistic situation, and will continue to result in many people smoking in public, which is not legal in Colorado, and can result in stiff fines.

    Two Competing Social Use Initiatives

    There were initially two competing social use initiative being circulated in Denver. Denver NORML and Responsible Use Denver were circulating petitions for an initiative that would have allowed marijuana-only lounges and special use permits to be issued, and frankly, it was in my perspective the preferred proposal. It would have provided Amsterdam-like lounges where marijuana smokers could socialize with their marijuana smoking friends outside a private home, and it would have provided for special permits for 420 and similar events where marijuana smoking would have been legal.

    And most importantly, it would not have permitted alcohol sales in the marijuana lounges, an attempt to avoid the problems often faced when alcohol drinkers imbibe too heavily, getting in fights and otherwise engendering violent and aggressive behavior. As marijuana smokers, we did not want to be blamed for these all-too-familiar alcohol-related problems.

    But despite a valiant effort by Jordan Person and Judd Golden and Denver NORML supporters, the petition failed to gather a sufficient number of signatures of registered voters. It was a true grassroots effort, and Denver NORML will likely be back with another effort in the future.

    Initiative 300

    An industry-backed and funded effort, Initiative 300, did make the ballot with a proposal that would permit certain bars and lounges to apply for a license that would permit marijuana edibles in restricted areas, and perhaps vaporization (although city authorities have questioned whether this would be permissible under current state law). But to obtain such a license, the applicant would first have to obtain the approval of a neighborhood advisory council, a requirement that is not likely to be met by many applicants.

    Nonetheless, any proposal that recognizes the need for responsible marijuana smokers to be allowed to use marijuana outside a private home is a step in the right direction, and thus this initiative, with all of its shortcomings, still deserves our support.

    So all Denver marijuana smokers need to get behind this city-wide voter initiative, and let’s continue to push the envelope until we achieve a policy that treats responsible marijuana fairly in all respects, including job discrimination, child custody issues; driving under the influence of drugs, and the right to socialize with other marijuana smokers in a public setting outside the home where we are permitted to smoke marijuana.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    4 Responses to “National NORML Board of Directors Endorses Denver Social Use Ballot Initiative 300”

    1. Julian says:

      Can we bring our own medibles and pre-loaded vaporizers to the bar? How can this possibly be enforced?

    2. Mark Mitcham says:

      Well, it’s not a cannabis club, if you can’t smoke cannabis there.

      But if it’s not a cannabis club, then what is it?

      A bar? …that also serves cannabis drinks? Bad idea: we legalizers and “our” marijuana will be blamed for every stupid thing that goes wrong there, as Keith points out above — and I couldn’t agree more. It should be a separate venue entirely from the alcohol bars.

      A coffee shop? That might work. At least there would be food. Excellent for wake-and-bake. Still can’t smoke there, but you might get some fantastic, homemade edibles! And coffee! Mmmm! I can envision it. But it’s still not a cannabis club.

      Ah, well. When we get our cannabis clubs, then I will go out dancing. Until then, I’ll continue to partake here, there, and everywhere!

    3. Julian says:

      Here’s a fascinating example of public/private marijuana consumption evolution in Barcelona;

      http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2016/09/22/inside-barcelonas-private-marijuana-clubs/90826590/

      The dichotomy between regulating legal local consumption and regulating tourist venues is a big deal. We need both, each with it’s own set of rules for each local community. Thats where NORML chapters are needed.

    4. Mark Mitcham says:

      I think cannabis clubs should be separate venues from alcohol bars.

      My reasons for believing cannabis clubs should be separate venues from alcohol bars are both personal and general. Personally, I would like to go to a cannabis club where the culture is cannabis, not alcohol. I’ve done my time in bars. But cannabis is a different vibe altogether. There needs to be a place like that.

      But generally, and more importantly: It’s a mistake to normalize dangerous behavior (like drinking alcohol) as “safe” and “normal”, and then to evaluate safe behavior (like smoking cannabis) as a problematic by that reference.

      Example: A bunch of guys go out drinking heavily (normal, and dangerous); one drunk fellow smokes some bud, his head starts to spin, and he pukes. The consensus is, he “shouldn’t have” smoked the weed (weed is the scapegoat!)

      Regular readers of these blogs and comments will remember my rants about the dangers of the corporate product known as “The Automobile.” But the same principle applies in that case, as well: A guys gets on the freeway, full of bumper to bumper traffic going eighty MPH (normal, and dangerous.) Ahead, a soda bottle causes a flat tire which causes a stalled vehicle which causes a traffic jam, and the guy gets rear-ended by a tractor trailer rig, and turned into mush!

      When they analyze that mush in the lab, they find THC. Guess what caused the accident? You got it: marijuana!! Now you have billboards saying marijuana causes automobile accidents.

      See how the dangers of the automobile, or of alcohol, get politically transferred onto cannabis, and those who use it?

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