Denver NORML Announces Marijuana Lounge Initiative

This past Friday, Denver NORML announced a new effort to enact a municipal voter initiative this year in Denver to legalize the social use of marijuana in certain venues within the city. The initiative will be known as “Responsible Use Denver,” and will seek to legalize private marijuana clubs for those 21 and up, as well as protect businesses that permit responsible adult marijuana use.

There are a number of important fixes needed to the initial legalization laws, but none impact more smokers than the current ban on marijuana smoking outside a private home.

Alaska officials are discussing the possibility of allowing marijuana smoking at some licensed marijuana retailers, and the DC City Council recently approved private marijuana clubs, and then reversed themselves in a second vote a few minutes later. So far, none of the legalization jurisdictions permit smoking outside a private home.

During 2015, an effort to license certain bars in Denver, CO, to permit marijuana smoking in areas where tobacco smoking is permitted, was circulated as a municipal voter initiative, before being withdrawn by the sponsors only a day before it was to be certified for the ballot. No public explanation was ever provided for the strange turn of events.

Denver NORML said their goal is to pick up where others left off in 2015. “We greatly appreciate the previous attempt to bring this issue to Denver voters, but we want to get this done,” said Jordan Person, executive director of Denver NORML.

Marijuana smoking is a social activity, and there is absolutely no valid reason to deny marijuana smokers the right to congregate and enjoy their favorite herb in a social setting. We should not be limited only to smoking in our homes.

In Colorado, a state which counts tourism as among its major industries, the level of tourism since marijuana was legalized has continued to grow, and 49% of those tourists say the right to smoke marijuana legally was one of the reasons they chose to travel to Colorado on vacation. Yet, the large majority of those marijuana tourists (with the exception of a small number who manage to stay at a marijuana friendly hotel or bed and breakfast), have no legal place to smoke the marijuana they legally buy.

That is a situation that cannot continue, and cries out for some common sense relief. Marijuana smokers need places they can congregate socially where, if they wish, they can also smoke marijuana. Either we legalize and regulate those smoking venues, or black-market “smokeasies” will continue to surface.

“NORML wants to bring Denver closer to the goal of treating marijuana like alcohol, as the voters overwhelmingly approved when Amendment 64 was passed in 2012,” Person said.

These could be Amsterdam-style coffee shops, where marijuana and food is available, but no alcohol; they could be smoking areas in existing bars that do sell alcohol; or they could be private clubs, where members pay a modest fee to enter. It would be instructive if different jurisdictions tried different models, providing us some guidance as we move forward.

And NORML is the right organization to push for this change. We represent the interests of marijuana smokers, and it is our obligation to bring the marijuana smoking culture above ground, and out of the closet; and nothing will accomplish that goal more effectively than the establishment of legal marijuana smoking areas in states that have legalized marijuana.

“We are coming from the perspective of the consumer and not as industry business owners or representatives,” Person said, “but of course we will work with a broad-based coalition of consumers, industry groups and business to gather the needed signatures and to ensure passage.”

It’s time we consumers get-up, stand-up, light-up and demand this right; we should not permit the prohibitionists to limit our smoking only to private homes.

13 thoughts

  1. Hopefully this passes, as people really need places they are allowed to toke up. Especially those who vacation to Colorado to smoke legally. It’s time to show the rest of the country that this can work.

    I hope that Canada follows through too, as that will help as well, to get things as such passed.

    I do not always like to admit, that I am a cannabis consumer, as I live in a state which it is still illegal in. It is time for a change.

  2. Sweet terpenes and ganga oil! (Inhale… Exhale…)
    So Pretty soon we can cure a migraine just walking down the streets of Denver? Will these new rules include rooftops and outdoor venues?

  3. I’ve found alcohol and cocaine to be ‘sociable’ drugs (these are synergistic, too). Marijuana is more creative and introspective. That’s just me.

    I thought marijuana was ‘sociable’, because a joint continues to burn whether you are holding your breath with the last hit or not.

  4. In this article I counted the word “smoke” (3 times), “smoking” (11 times), “smoker(s)” (4 times), plus “smokeasies”!– but nary a mention of Vape, Vaporize(r) etc. Maybe this indicates also the 2015 initiative and the new R. U. D. are still missing the vape-ortunity to propose something which would actually pass more easily, i.e. a vape lounge (“Study: Vaporizers Deliver Safe, Reliable Doses of Cannabinoids”) instead of hardline, defiant insistance on the Whole Thing, Hot Burning Overdose Monoxide Paperstuffrollette $moking like the bogarts do. You won’t miss the $moking, others will appreciate the CO-free air.

    Remember 82% of American adults now consider themselves “non-smokers”, so harping on smoking could antagonize some voters.

    Someone who’s been thinking of checking out Denver might consider finding a commercially zoned building at 2222 South something– or get 2222 into the prominently posted phone number– and open a Vape Lounge with a big sign saying “2222 S. VAPEASY”.* Other ads would feature a frequent slogan, “At the Vapeasy”.

    Well, it’s in honour of the property where Al Capone once had a bar in alchibition times, at 2222 S. Wabash, Chicago, “The Four Deuces”. In recent years a team of journalists excavated the site looking for buried treasure. Cannabinoids are a device for excavating LEAP Longterm Episodic Associative Performance memories from the Unconscious memory default-vault, resulting in inventions which serve the purpose of protecting our Climate.

  5. While I strongly support this initiative my own personal problem is that I HATE smoking with other people. I hate puff puff,pass. What I want to do is smoke my cannabis in the privacy of my hotel room. The only exception to this is if I had a cannabis smoking girlfriend. But then I would pass it to her in our hotel room and still would not be in a public cannabis smoking venue. The reason for this is that I have many times been attacked by bullies who liked to hurt me for reasons of religious discrimination by passing me over. The problem was that I had no other connection. Eventually I was cut out entirely. I will always have deep wounds from this persecution and will always negatively respond to any puff and pass situation. If the only way I could get pot was by sharing it in this way I might out of desperation accept the passed joint but I would not be happy about it. When it comes to me I want to smoke alone at home in a legal state. If I could legally grow pot I would only grow it for myself, smoke it myself and never under any circumstances sell it on the market. The only person I might give it as a free gift to would be a pot smoking girlfriend that I have yet to find.

  6. I’m for the coffee-shop model. First of all, coffee and marijuana go together very nicely for many people. They have complementary pharmaceutical effects. But I’m not saying you shouldn’t be able to smoke pot in a bar; I’m just saying that you shouldn’t have to go to a bar to smoke pot. Secondly, a coffee-shop setting is a more appropriate place to burn one, because, without the alcohol, it will be much more mellow and civilized: no puking and fights and crap like that. People who are trying to get drunk may smoke pot, but people who smoke pot aren’t neccessarily trying to get drunk.

  7. Thank you, Keith and NORML! I’m glad someone is having another try at legalizing places where cannabis consumers and congregate and either vaporize or smoke, rather than just eat something infused. I mean, if I’m going to fork out the big bucks to travel from Pennsylvania to Colorado or Alaska, and then have to sit around for 2 to 4 hours in an Alaskan cannabis shop or in my Colorado hotel room to wait for the buzz to kick in to see if I ate enough, that’s going to be a huge waste of time. When I go to Amsterdam, I can be a regular tourist during the day, and then in the evening relax with some cannabis at the end of a stressful day. I can’t do it in my hotel room in Mokum, and I can’t take any of it home with me. We need a Mokum, a safe haven, for the cannabis community here in the U.S. Lots of MOKUMs! Some place has to be the first. Why not Denver? If the states that have legalized adult recreational would legalize Amsterdam-style coffeeshops in tandem, no state would be going it alone, and therefore could not be singled out. So far, I haven’t been to any of the states that have legalized, and I’m not planning on vacationing there in the near future because other places have a higher priority on my bucket list. Cancer patients like me in Pennsylvania just do without or have to find a street connection and take there chances some asshole didn’t spray some K2 Spice chemicals on shit weed.

  8. Candidate Clinton has voiced what Leafly calls “tepid” support for legalization. She keeps saying that she’s okay with states legalizing cannabis because states are laboratories of democracy. Cannabis prohibition simply has to go. I, and many others, simply want to live in a free country, a free state. You shouldn’t have to leave the U.S. to live in a country that gives you more freedom, i.e. The Netherlands. That is especially the case for medical cannabis, patients and kids who can’t get their medicine legally and have to buy off the street, their guy, connection.

    You shouldn’t have to leave your own state for legal cannabis, medical or adult recreational. Period. Everyone knows cannabis prohibition has been the new Jim Crow for decades already. It’s just be recent years that more and more people have become aware of this. In terms of cannabis, I see free states and Jim Crow states, not unlike an antebellum perspective. Today, it’s just not limited to only people of color, albeit they are adversely affected more.

    I want to live in a free state, a state where cannabis is legal.

    1. Forget about Clinton. With the momentum Bernie Sanders is building, we’re going to gain a few seats back in Congress from the Republican prohibition line. My prediction is after the first two years in office the House will be blue again and marijuana will be descheduled.

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