Denver Cannabis Advocates Seek to Legalize Limited Social Marijuana Use


The cannabis community has made great strides across the country, both politically and culturally. Cannabis law reforms win a vast majority of the time when placed on the ballot box and supporting marijuana legalization is no longer seen as a political handicap. However, despite winning great gains around the nation, the cannabis community still suffers through many forms of discrimination, from employment law to housing discrimination. One form of discrimination, that cannabis use must always be tucked away in private, some Denver cannabis activists are seeking to legalize the social use of marijuana in public establishments.

Time reports:

“I enjoy drinking a beer but I don’t feel like I should always have to do it sitting in my home,” said Mason Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, which spearheaded the effort to legalize pot in 2012. “And people who are visiting from out of town are able to purchase marijuana but are not able to consume it legally.”

Tvert, along with attorney Brian Vicente, are leading the initiative to get the issue on the ballot in November, calling their effort the Campaign for Limited Social Use. In order to qualify, they’ll need to collect the signatures of 4,726 registered Denver voters by early August. But some local leaders feel that advocates are pushing their luck this time.


Under the proposed ballot initiative, commercial establishments that sell alcohol on site would be able to allow marijuana consumption on their premises—which might mean someone vaping at the cocktail bar or smoking a joint in a fenced-in outdoor area. It would also allow for cannabis-only businesses—meaning they do not serve alcohol but do serve as a place to vape—and would give Denver the power to regulate them, setting restrictions on hours and locations.

Forcing people to use marijuana in private isn’t just unnecessary discrimination, but it also has negative policy implications as well. Many people, especially tourists, will choose marijuana-infused edibles instead of smoking cannabis flowers because they don’t have a place to use cannabis. Infused edibles can lead to unfortunate consequences for people that aren’t used to such products, often seeing edibles as a tamer way to use cannabis, when the opposite can actually be the case. Many people will continue to smoke marijuana in private as well, subjecting themselves to fines and wasting law enforcement resources. I wish Denver cannabis advocates luck with this sensible initiative and hope that a similar policy can be a model for the rest of the country.

Anthony Johnson

Anthony, a longtime cannabis law reform advocate, was Chief Petitioner and co-author of Measure 91, Oregon's cannabis legalization effort. He served as director of both the New Approach Oregon and Vote Yes on 91 PACs, the political action committees responsible for the state's legalization campaign. As director of New Approach Oregon, Anthony continues to work towards effectively implementing the cannabis legalization system while protecting small business owners and the rights of patients. He sits on the Oregon Marijuana Rules Advisory Committee and fights for sensible rules at the legislature as well as city councils and county commissions across the state. Anthony helps cannabis business comply with Oregon's laws and advises advocates across the country. He also serves as content director of both the International Cannabis Business Conference and the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference, helping share the vision of moving the cannabis industry forward in a way that maintains the focus on keeping people out of prison and protecting patients. He was a member of the Oregon Health Authority Rules Advisory Committee, assisting the drafting of the administrative rules governing Oregon’s state-licensed medical marijuana facilities. He first co-authored and helped pass successful marijuana law reform measures while a law student at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. He passed the Oregon Bar in 2005 and practiced criminal defense for two years before transitioning to working full-time in the political advocacy realm. His blogs on Marijuana Politics are personal in nature and don't speak for or reflect the opinions of any group or organization.