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Denver Takes First Steps To Approve Public Marijuana Use, A First For U.S.

A woman is smoking a cigarette in public.

While several states in the US have already taken the leap to legalize marijuana recreationally, in most of those states, it is still not legal to toke in public.  In Colorado, however, the city of Denver is taking steps to change this norm.

In a narrow vote, voters in Colorado approved “social use” for marijuana last November.  The ballot initiative, however, didn’t lay out many specific rules for what social use is.

Beyond rules against smoking inside and against people under 21 smoking, it was left to others to fine tune the regulations.  A working group has formed in Denver made up of business owners, city regulators and marijuana opponents to do just that.

The state’s Liquor Control Board decided that establishments which serve alcohol will not be able to allow marijuana use.  That leaves other spaces, like restaurants that don’t serve alcohol, yoga studios and art galleries to allow use.

Rachel O’Bryan, organizer of the opposition campaign to the measure, worries about how businesses can safeguard against intoxicated driving.

The measure is not going to allow businesses to actually sell and serve cannabis; instead, people themselves will bring their own product in.

“If you are neither serving nor counting the potency of the product, nor counting how much they consume, how are you protecting the public when they leave your property?”

While there are no hard deadlines or dates for when rules will be finalized in Denver, hopeful supporters say they expect to see applications coming in this summer.

It’s certainly a process to weed through public opinion and reasonable legislation to begin allowing for public use of marijuana.  However, with Denver leading the way, we may expect to see similar legal motions to approve marijuana’s social use in other cities and states.  Way to go Denver!”

Mac Jackman