The March Towards Normalization Continues


As Colorado approaches its fourth year of legal marijuana, consumers around the state are still struggling with the issue of acceptance. With local governments passing restrictive laws aimed at preventing the public consumption and/or display of marijuana, marijuana consumers are being forced to enjoy their legally purchased products behind closed doors. Take Denver for example. In 2013, City Council members passed an ordinance that established fines of up to $999 for those who are caught smoking in a public space. This left in state consumers with nowhere to consume their marijuana other than a private residence, and left out-of-state consumers with no legal place to consume at all.

After the new law was put into place, Denver police officers issued more than 650 tickets within the first year, compared to just over 117 for the previous year. This massive increase of 461 percent in citations speaks volumes to the obvious need for a more thoughtful approach. It just doesn’t make sense to provide a legal avenue for adults to purchase marijuana while simultaneously applying restrictions that severely limit the act of consuming it. It’s fairly simple, marijuana consumers deserve similar rights that our society typically affords to someone who enjoys a glass of wine at a local wine bar after an exhausting day.

Hopefully this situation will soon change. Last week Denver NORML filed the Responsible Use initiative with the city of Denver. If passed by voters this November, it would legalize the establishment of private marijuana clubs for adults 21 and up. Passage of this ordinance would be a historic first step in moving towards the ultimate goal of normalizing the consumption of marijuana in our country. The initiative would provide responsible adults a legally defined space where marijuana could be consumed and shared with other like-minded adults — a simple, yet necessary accommodation for states that have passed some form of legalization. It’s time for marijuana consumers to embrace the idea that just like any other consumer focused industry, we have rights.

We have our work ahead of us: gathering signatures, voter outreach and coalition building will be our top priorities over the next few weeks. Even in a progressive city such as Denver, where marijuana is fairly popular, we must work to earn the support non-consumers to ensure a victory on this issue. I believe we can accomplish this by offering a pragmatic initiative that will focus on the basics. There are plenty of places to grab a drink or a quick bite to eat, but we as marijuana consumers have no where to legally consume marijuana other than the privacy of someone’s home. If we focus on what is truly needed, I believe we can increase our chances of being successful this November.

To learn more about the Responsible Use Initiative or to get involved, please visit the campaign’s website by clicking, here!

16 thoughts

  1. Back in the Sixties a guy and I drove all the way to San Diego, CA. In those days people there openly passed joints around in bars. I remember watching people play folkie acoustic music just for the fun of it. Real bohemian, hippie type revelry.

    I always thought legal weed would be a real stimulant in allowing us to appreciate our art and culture.

    Makes for longer, more powerful orgasms, too.

  2. Maybe there could be a network of private homes throughout the city where folks could stop by to enjoy a smoke? I’d sign up my living room for certain times of the day…maybe an hour before and after 4:20 p.m.

  3. While I am 100% in support of est6ablishing legal public places to smoke, not just vape (I hate the vapor lounge craze in which vaping but not smoking is allowed) We must keep in mind that5 the prohibitionists are attacking amendment 64 with bills to limit thc. If they pass Colorodo will be legal in name only and prohibition will have returned. We mneed to fight bot5h offensively for public smoking places and defensively against thc limits. Unless you can show me a reason why such a thc limiting bill or initiative cannot pass we should fight to the death to just keep legalization alive in colorodo evenh while fighting for public smoking places.

  4. Imagine that? A legal place where marijuana consumers can toke, vaporize and converse with a professional budtender serving and educating us on each strain on the menu. We could sample, even purchase a to go order and move on with our beautiful, extraordinary lives.

    I predict Denver, DC and Anchorage get it done in November. I can’t believe Seattle isn’t there yet! I would not have seen that coming 4 years ago when Washington and Colorado first legalized. The way they love their coffee shops you’d figure weed in that kind of venue would have been natural legislation… Goes to show you never can tell where state by state legalization is going to take us…

    1. I’m going to sign the petition, then I’m going to collect more signatures, like I did for A64. Denver Norml, I’ll be in touch next week to see about collecting signatures.

      @ julian: thanks for the push.

  5. In the Pueblo paper this morning it says there is a construction owner who is filling a petition to be voted on this Nov that will ban all MJ shops in Pueblo County by Nov 2017. He says there is a rise in crime plus more young people are using it and he thinks that is the reason for a lot of homeless people there. He also said the Feds say he can’t have workers that use MJ period. So we will see what happens.

  6. The increase in tickets for public use of cannabis in Denver is worth thinking about for a moment.

    Except for the current crop of kiddies, all we Americans were born into a prohibitionist society. Some of us have been hurt more than others by that oppression, starting with those who have been killed, followed by those in prison now, and/or those whose kids have been stolen by the state over marijuana.

    In that context, MERELY receiving a ticket when “caught” smoking pot seems almost like a slap on the wrist! You’re tempted to frame it and hang it on your wall as a sign of progress! But that’s an emotion that, while understandable (if you’ve lived the bulk of your theoretical lifespan under prohibiton as I have), is part of a second-class citizen mindset that has been drummed into us from birth. There’s no shame for where we’ve been, but I think we must now reject that second-class mindset.

    An increase in tickets of 461 percent should be a sober reminder, so to speak, of how expendable and exploitable we still are in the eyes of law enforcement (LEAP and similar-minded officers aside), and not part of the legitimate citizenry, in practice.

    So let’s do this. The cannabis clubs are more than just a social venue — they’re a haven, and we need them.

    1. You say: “we must now reject that second-class mindset.”

      Easier said than done, of course. 80 years of the world’s largest propaganda/demonization campaign has left a layer of stigma so thick, it will take at least a generation to erase.

      1. True that! And there will be some that never come around!

        But I was actually talking about freeing one’s own mind… picking out the bits and pieces of mental shrapnel, so to speak, that living in a Drug War zone can cause in one’s own mind, even when we see through the more obvious “reefer madness” propaganda, the blatant lies and so forth.

        We can raise our sights; I’ll give you an example. When I was younger, sneaking a single toke represented a significant act of political resistance, even though I wasn’t thinking in political terms at that time. But when I got older, having a steady supply became the new standard, even though I was still “in the closet” with respect to cannabis and my job, etc. That represented winning, to me, at that time. But the price was, no one could suspect I was a stoner, or I would immediately be drug-tested, and lose my job.

        Still later, I got tired of hiding and “came out”, became more vocal and active. That gave me my identity and my dignity back, and eventually led to actual volunteer participation in legalization efforts. Started getting picky about my jobs. I don’t apply for jobs that want my urine anymore.

        Now it’s legal where I live! But we can still get a ticket. Why? We’ve done nothing wrong. Dare we raise our sights some more? Dare we consider ourselves full citizens? I think we should.

      2. Of course we must dare everything until we have at least equal status as alcohol consumers. – But we have to temper our demands with realistic expectations.

        That’s great you were able to come out at work. Many can’t. Even after re-legalization, that stigma will be there, thicker in some places than others. Just like prejudice exists for so many things.

        I’ve been on the receiving end of that oppression for 45 years, and will be happy enough just to see the laws disintegrate. – All the small, calcified minds won’t much matter to me – but it will be a huge societal headache for decades.

      3. I think you make a really excellent point to this extent: we haven’t really won, if legalization only occurs in certain, privileged segments of society, and the Drug War continues to rain down on everybody else. That’s not reform, that’s class privilege, which makes it just another form of social injustice.

        I acknowledge that stopping all MJ arrests is more important than me getting my medicine personally (as important as that is to my health and well-being.)

        Further, I’m sure it must be maddening for other stoners to see legalization occuring in states all around them, but not budging in their own home state.

        But each win strenthens and solidifies the others; it’s not just about me, it’s truly about freeing all who still suffer under the prohibionist oppression, including everyone else, and including you. I haven’t forgotten that.

  7. I really like this SensiSeeds video reportage on how the UN is irrelevant in its prohibitionist position regarding cannabis. Their UNGASS is from 4/19 to 4/21, and they need to see the televised pro-cannabis events so that it sinks into their skulls. Banners and signs in the background or held by some celebrants that actually tell the UN to legalize cannabis and remove it altogether from any kind of schedules are part of the kind of video and media reportage they need to see, read about, and hear about on the radio and from social media sources. The pro-legalization messages, semiotic subtexts, and memes must outnumber those that are prohibitionist.

  8. Cannabis acceptance and toleration will come through the respectful and commonplace interaction brought on by love and forgiveness. Treating people as criminals in order for them to procure employment does not set a sound precedent for mutual respect.

  9. I’m 52 years old, and I support freedom for all smokers. I’m so fed up with the healthcare and public safety proponents. They should mind their own business. The government is for and by the people, period. The new Obamacare laws aren’t helping either. Now healthcare providers want your blood, your piss, and everything else. When will this madness end!!
    I was born free and raised free and will not settle for anything less.
    Thanks for your time.

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