Denver Councilman: Rein In Medical Marijuana

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Marijuana buds. (Joe Amon, The Denver Post)

Outgoing Denver City Councilman Chris Nevitt says he isn’t surprised by what appears to be a well-organized push to launch a marijuana-use ballot measure that would ask city voters to allow use in some businesses such as bars.

Denver City Councilman Chris Nevitt. (Handout)

Denver City Councilman Chris Nevitt.

The proposed marijuana ballot measure’s backers — who released a poll Thursday suggesting majority voter support — are taking aim at a much-discussed problem: Public consumption isn’t permitted by local or state laws, but visitors to Denver — some visiting because of recreational marijuana — have virtually no place to legally smoke or vape.

“So we’ve got to address it,” Nevitt said. “And we’ve failed to.”

That said, he noted that city policy makers don’t like how far the proposed initiative would go in allowing consumption at publicly accessible businesses whose owners opt in. (Smoking would have to occur outdoors, hidden from public view, under the activists’ language.) Some officials might begrudgingly support allowing marijuana use at a few specialty pot clubs instead.

“It’d be better if they gave us a shot and let us grapple with it,” said Nevitt, who leaves office July 20 after losing his bid in the May 5 election to jump to the auditor’s office. “But again, we’ve got a brand-new council and they’ll need to get their feet wet, so it will probably be a while” before the council could take it up.

But if the ballot measure were to pass, he said, the effect might be to tie city regulators’ hands more than they’d want. “We’ll just persist in this stupid problem,” Nevitt said.

With a relatively low threshold of about 5,000 voter signatures to get the measure on this November’s ballot, the pro-marijuana advocates — who also were behind 2012’s Amendment 64 — look likely to succeed in sending it to voters.

Mayor Michael Hancock and his administration have questioned whether state law and Amendment 64 allow what the proposed ballot measure seeks.

Denver City Councilman Charlie Brown.

Denver City Councilman Charlie Brown. (Post file)

I also spoke Thursday with outgoing Councilman Charlie Brown, who led committees that drafted ordinances implementing medical and then recreational marijuana sales and use, despite his opposition to both state amendments. (He’s since come around on medical marijuana legalization, he says.)

He had this to say about the consumption ballot proposal: “My initial reaction is it was too much, too soon,” while the city is still sorting through the effects of legalization. “I saw the poll today, but we’ll see.”

But while Brown and some current council members take a harder line than Nevitt, several candidates in council races in the spring, including a couple who won, said they favored at least looking at relaxing the outright public consumption ban and other regulations.

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Source : http://blogs.denverpost.com/thespot/2015/07/09/denver-councilman-activists-pushing-new-pot-use-initiative-are-stepping-into-gap-left-by-city/121922/

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