- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Marijuana advocates in Denver declared a belated win Monday evening after a ballot measure allowing for public marijuana use appeared to have narrowly passed.

The Denver Elections Division indicated Initiative 300 was poised to pass after nearly a week’s worth of tallying showed the pro-pot measure leading 53 percent to 47 percent, with a difference of roughly 20,000 votes making the difference between sides.

“I’m really happy that the folks of Denver saw the sensibility of this measure,” Yes on 300 organizer Kayvan Khalatbari told 9 News, the city’s NBC affiliate. “It’s a victory for people who use cannabis and for people who don’t.

“This is a victory for cannabis consumers who, like alcohol consumers, simply want the option to enjoy cannabis in social settings,” Mr. Khalatbari said. “It is also a victory for the city of Denver, its diverse neighborhoods and those who don’t consume cannabis, as it will reduce the likelihood that adults will resort to consuming in public.”

Passage of the initiative means Denver businesses will soon be able to obtain specialized pot permits that allow customers to consume cannabis, in turn establishing a first-in-the-nation system for social marijuana use.

Also known as the “Neighborhood Supported Social Use Initiative,” the ordinance will put in place a regulated citywide system for issuing social use licenses that will enable recipients to designate certain areas within their establishments as weed-friendly.

Business owners can effectively apply to create designated areas where marijuana use is allowable for as long as the applicable permit allows. Licenses would let anyone 21 and over to vape and consume cannabis products indoors in designated places, and smoke outdoors as long as they stay further than 100 feet from a school and away from public.

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.

Permit seekers could request licenses in order to install semi-permanent pot-smoking sections inside concert venues, bars, restaurants and other establishments where customers might want to consume cannabis. Licenses will be issued on a case-by-case business, and the program will sunset in four years unless reauthorized.

“We don’t want this in public,” Yes on 30 campaign director Emmett Reistroffer told a local CBS affiliate. “We want this in private places where it’s permitted, where it’s only for adults 21 and over and where the staff are trained to be in charge of these environments.”

Colorado in 2014 became the first state in the country to legalize recreational marijuana for adults. Oregon, Washington, Alaska and D.C. later followed suit, and recreational weed programs were approved last week by voters in California, Massachusetts, Nevada and Maine.

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