Published: Thu, November 17, 2016
Health | By Constance Griffith

Denver first city in US to allow pot in bars, restaurants

Initiative 300 would create a four-year pilot program that would allow Denver businesses, such as bars or cafes, to apply for a permit that would enable customers, aged 21 and over, to consume their own marijuana in designated areas.

I-300's lead proponent tells Reuters the city's foray into social pot use could start "as soon as late January", though the amount of time it will take businesses to get neighbors onboard will be the big variable.

Critics of the initiative had argued that the measure would expand public use of marijuana and expose bystanders to secondhand smoke. Any business - from laundromats to bars - can apply for a license from the city, as long as it has the approval of a registered neighborhood organization.

The federal government still classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug that is as risky as heroin, ecstasy and LSD, with "no current accepted medical use". Another potential point of concern for restaurants? Denver is the first city to allow bars and restaurants to permit marijuana use, though patrons must bring their own weed. But apparently, those concerns weren't enough to dissuade voters.

"This is a victory for cannabis consumers who, like alcohol consumers, simply want the option to enjoy cannabis in social settings", Kayvan Khalatbari, co-owner of Denver Relief Consulting, told The Denver Post.

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Alaska is the only marijuana state that allows on-site consumption at dispensaries.

Colorado became one of the first states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana almost three years ago, but it remains illegal for people to consume it in public. However, it's theoretically possible for an indoor marijuana smoking area to open in a licensed cigar bar. Green-light districts could pop up around the city, sprinkled with pot-friendly coffee shops, bars, restaurants and yoga studios. Initiative 300 "is a good solution to that problem".

Permit applications cost $1,000 to submit, and must be accompanied by the backing of any local neighborhood group, such as a block club or business council.

These rules can be made into official city restrictions on an individual license, each written to tailor to the agreement between the business and its partnering neighborhood group.

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