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DENVER (AP) – Denver has approved a first-in-the-nation law allowing people to use marijuana at bars, restaurants and other public spaces such as art galleries or yoga studios.
The catch: Patrons could use pot as long as it isn’t smoked and the locations would have to seek the approval of neighbors.
Denver voters approved Proposition 300 as eight other states legalized marijuana for medical or recreational purposes last week. The Denver vote was so close that it took an entire week for supporters to claim victory and opponents to concede.
“It’s the sensible thing to do,” said Emmett Reistroffer, a Denver marijuana consultant and campaign manager for the pot-in-bars measure. “This is about personal responsibility and respecting adults who want to have a place to enjoy cannabis.”
The city measure takes effect immediately, but it has a lot of caveats.
First, interested bars and restaurants would have to show they have neighborhood support before getting a license to allow marijuana use. In addition, patrons would have to bring their own weed to comply with state law banning the sale of both pot and food or drink at a single location.
Patrons at participating bars could use pot inside as long as it isn’t smoked. The law does provide for the possibility of outside smoking areas under restrictive circumstances.
Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the national Marijuana Policy Project and a Denver proponent of the consumption law, said the measure would reduce instances of tourists smoking pot on sidewalks and in parks because they have nowhere private to consume weed.
A Denver billboard promoting the measure featured a large arrow pointing to a sidewalk below, telling voters that without a provision for social pot use, folks will keep smoking pot in plain view. “We are setting up a system that is still more restrictive than what we see with alcohol consumption,” Tvert said.