Denver lawmakers reject proposal to ease social-use cannabis business restrictions

Currently, 20 square miles of space has been made available to social-use businesses in the 155-square-mile city

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Denver lawmakers reject proposal to ease social-use cannabis business restrictions

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

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A proposal to relax rules for cannabis social consumption businesses was recently rejected by the Denver City Council. In the event that the proposal was approved, more dispensaries would have been able to operate citywide.

Seven out of 12 council members supported the proposal. This was less than the minimum required amount for the voter-approved law to be changed, according to a report by the Denver Post.

Denver’s cannabis bill to ease social-use business restrictions would have decreased the distance in which a social consumption spot must be positioned from certain buildings, such as child care facilities. The distance would have been reduced to 500 feet from the current limit of 1,000 feet.

Fortunately, for cannabis business owners specializing in the social consumption space, a separate bill is being considered by state lawmakers to permit on-site consumption at “[cannabis] hospitality establishments.” These establishments include cannabis tour buses, designated areas inside hotels and cannabis lounges.

Just over a week ago, the Colorado House passed the measure, which is now awaiting consideration from the Senate Finance Committee.

Denver voters decided to allow cannabis consumption at businesses in 2016

Back in 2016, a “social use” law was approved by city voters. Three years on and just two cannabis businesses in Denver have been given the green light to allow social consumption.

Based on the details of the law, social cannabis consumption spaces in Colorado must be positioned at least 1,000 feet from schools. A similar requirement was included by the city administration for addiction treatment facilities, city recreation centers, and daycare facilities.

The new bill, which suggested that the distance be shrunk to 500 feet for every category excluding schools, has not been well-received by local opponents.

The local people of Denver who are hoping to halt the growth of Colorado’s cannabis industry – particularly in areas where young children may play or attend school – have criticized the social cannabis consumption proposal. However, advocates of cannabis reform in Denver believe that by changing the law, illicit outdoor consumption can be prevented.

“I don’t think it’s the job of any member of an elected government to make it easier for a drug industry to make more money, to make it easier for people to use drugs,” said Luke Niforatos, who works at an anti-commercialization organization called Smart Approaches to Marijuana.

The change was also opposed by a number of other groups, such as the Colorado Children’s Campaign and Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Cannabis supporters don’t agree with opponents, with many advocates stating how social use consumption spaces can deter kids from trying “black market” weed whilst unsupervised on the streets.

Investors aren’t pleased with the rejection of Denver’s cannabis bill to ease social-use business limits, either. The restrictions have forced a lot of investors to venture elsewhere. Should the proposal have been accepted, an extra 2.2 square miles of space would have been granted to social-use businesses. Currently, 20 square miles of space has been made available to businesses in the 155-square-mile city