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Denver's final social marijuana consumption rules released; waiver, ventilation requirements dropped

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Posted at 12:01 PM, Jun 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-30 14:01:21-04

DENVER – Denver’s licensing department on Friday released the final adopted rules that business wanting to allow the social use of marijuana in their buildings will have to adhere to in order to get a permit.

Denver voters approved Initiative 300 last November, which opens up the possibility for the existence of the clubs. The city, state and local organizations have been hammering out exactly what requirements the businesses have to follow since.

The city released its draft of rules and regulations for the social marijuana consumption permits in early May, and held a public hearing on the rules June 13, where opponents and supporters hashed out what they liked and didn’t about the draft rules.

And some of the complaints are reflected in the final rules released Friday.

Gone is the requirement that anyone who enters one of the businesses sign a waiver saying they will not over-consume or drive after partaking. Requirements that any social marijuana business have someone to ID customers at the door, and that a large sign be displayed noting no one under age 21 be allowed in side, will stay.

Also gone from the rules are stringent ventilation requirements for businesses that wanted to allow “vaping” inside—something many had objected to in the public comment hearing, as there are already city requirements in place that businesses have properly-working ventilation systems.

Social marijuana consumption businesses still won’t be able to serve alcohol at the same time they are allowing marijuana use inside, nor will they be able to sell marijuana for customers’ use.

And though people will have to bring their own product, they can’t bring in more than an ounce of marijuana; more than eight grams of marijuana concentrate, or more than 80 ten-milligram serving size edibles.

And staying in the final version of the rules are a ban on torches at the business, which leaves questions about whether people will be able to use wax or dabs, which are usually consumed by heating a surface with a torch and putting the product on the heated surface.

Prospective businesses will have to fill out an extensive survey; provide names and information on all their employees and owners to the state; floor plans of the building, description of their adherence to the Colorado Clean Indoor Act with their ventilation system (if they allow vaping indoors); a security plan and evidence of community support from neighborhood organizations, among many other things.

The city and county will allow for permits at designated businesses, as well as special event licenses.

But a special event license would only be valid for 10 days each year and could not be used on any public property, such as Civic Center Park, where the yearly 4/20 rally is typically held.

Also staying in the final rules is a requirement than any social marijuana club be at least 1,000 feet away from schools, child care establishments, alcohol and drug treatment facilities or city-owned rec centers or pools.

Kayvan Khalatbari, a city business owner and one of the lead proponents of Initiative 300, objected to some of those same requirements when the draft rules were first released, saying they could “oppress and stigmatize” marijuana users, adding that some liquor-serving establishments don’t have to adhere to some of the same rules.

The city will start accepting permits sometime in August after it sorts out the process by which the applications will be sorted and analyzed, as permits will have to be approved by the Department of Environmental Health, Public Works, Community Planning and Development and the Denver Fire Department.

Businesses that sell marijuana won't be able to also have social consumption areas.

Those who obtain permits won’t be able to alter their buildings beyond what was submitted in their applications unless they get approval from the licensing department, lest they risk losing their permit.