Initiative 300: Denver's social marijuana use measure too close to call in early returns

Denver’s vote on Initiative 300, the measure meant to permit limited cannabis consumption inside certain businesses, was too close to call in early returns Tuesday evening.

With nearly 46 percent of the projected vote counted at 10 p.m., the yes vote was leading with 94,462 votes, or 50.6 percent, to the no vote’s 91,997 votes, or 49.3 percent.

“It’s pretty much what I thought it would be,” Kayvan Khalatbari, a founding partner of Denver Relief Consulting who is also the lead proponent for the initiative’s Neighborhood-Supported Cannabis Consumption Pilot Program, told The Cannabist late Tuesday. “I’m very happy that we’ve made the progress that we have with a very grassroots initiative.”

For nearly three years anyone 21 and older has been able to purchase legal marijuana — but most tourists and many residents don’t have access to a space where the legal consumption of cannabis flower, edibles or concentrates is allowed. A few small localities have licensed a small number of cannabis-only clubs, and consumption is also legal inside private residences — but only with the permission of the homeowner.

Initiative 300 would create a four-year pilot program in Denver allowing regular businesses, such as bars, cafes or art galleries, to seek permits for bring-your-own-cannabis, 21-and-over consumption areas that are indoors (for vaping and edibles) or outdoors a certain distance from public spaces such as sidewalks (for smoking).

Applicants for annual or temporary permits would need backing from a single neighborhood group, such as a city-registered neighborhood organization or Business Improvement District. Those groups could set operating conditions in exchange for their support.

Initiative 300 was endorsed by the Democratic Party of Denver, Sen. Irene Aguilar and Rep. Jonathan Singer. But Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper told The Denver Post he would vote against the measure.

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