When Initiative 300 (I-300) passed in the 2016 November ballots, backers of the measure felt it was a step in the right direction. A four-year pilot program under I-300 was initially designed to expand public consumption of cannabis in the state, specifically in establishments or businesses with valid city-issued permits – also known as designated consumption areas (DCA).

According to the Denver Post, around 53 percent of 308,466 local voters support the measure. The Denver Department of Excise and Licenses was asked to create guidelines surrounding the process of registering, approving and awarding permits for qualified businesses.

But after months of development, many individuals have started to view the draft rules as “unnecessary and overly burdensome” for local establishments. Out of frustration, backers sent a letter to the permitting authority to express their concerns about the guidelines.

In the letter, a total of 13 issues were raised about I-300. The main concern includes the ban on dual licensing of cannabis and alcohol consumption for businesses that want to be able to facilitate both in their establishment. Backers believe it greatly reduces participation in the pilot program. As a solution, supporters of I-300 would like businesses to be able to create a space within the location that caters to both cannabis and alcohol consumption at different times.

Additionally, backers would like to see a streamlined approach to the implementation of the pilot program. Current guidelines require individuals entering a location under the scope of I-300 to sign an acknowledgement waiver. For businesses that cater to numerous consumers, this could be very frustrating. To address this issue, backers would prefer to replace the requirement with a clearly visible, posted note at the entrance of the consumption area.

I-300 supporters also want to ease restrictions surrounding how close one must be from schools, child-care buildings, treatment facilities and city-owned establishments. In particular, backers would like boundaries moved from 1,000 feet to 500 feet. Many individuals view the existing guideline as unfair, when compared to restrictions surrounding liquor licenses and permits.

Some draft regulations in I-300 need to be updated to include all types of public consumption areas. For example, outdoor patios and open-air lobbies can’t be ventilated – a requirement under the measure. Backers want such requirements removed from the guidelines, for outdoor locations.

Interestingly, the letter raised concerns about tight regulations on edibles. Currently, the proposed guidelines limit possession of cannabis edibles to 80-milligram servings in a consumption area. This is an issue because the serving size isn’t normally sold in retail shops and dispensaries. Moreover, recreational users are able to purchase edibles at 100-milligram potencies. Backers are worried about the proposed ruling’s inconsistent applications with existing cannabis products on the market.

“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,” said Emmett Reistroffer, campaign director for I-300.

A public hearing will be held on June 13 at the Webb Municipal Office Building about the rules.

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