The Neighborhood Supported Cannabis Consumption Pilot Program
July 8, 2016
The Neighborhood Supported Cannabis Consumption Pilot Program (NSCCPP) was designed with the interests of both cannabis consumers and Denver neighborhoods in mind and requires all cannabis consumption permit holders to engage local neighborhoods before gaining approval from the city, to ensure neighborhood compatibility and to address all community concerns. The initiative empowers eligible neighborhood organizations to be involved in the permit approval process, by providing input on permit restrictions to protect the interests, health, safety and welfare of the surrounding community. It provides maximum flexibility in terms of the type of establishments that may allow social cannabis use, but balances that flexibility with a permitting process that incorporates community input to ensure the establishments are not only properly regulated but also have local support.
Especially in Business Improvement Districts, this initiative empowers local business owners to create a differentiation in their business model to bring local consumers to their underutilized areas, while working with their eligible neighborhood organizations to do so in a manner that is respectful of community culture and existing priorities for the neighborhood. With oversight from law enforcement, fire and health officials, as well as the Director of Excise and Licenses, all cannabis consumption establishments must fulfill robust safety and security requirements in order to maintain a cannabis consumption permit. As this is a new endeavor for all stakeholders, this proposed ordinance has a sunset provision that dissolves this ordinance after four years from passing if it has not been extended by City Council or voter initiative prior to that time. The ordinance is set to expire December 31, 2020 unless extended by city council or a future voter initiative.
It is the goal of the NSCCPP to provide adults with safe and supervised consumption environments, comparable with alcohol regulations, and to provide cannabis consumers access to traditional social environments without being segregated from mainstream society.
Lessons from Last Time Around
September 3, 2015
In July 2015, the Campaign for Limited Social Cannabis Use launched a petition drive to qualify an initiative for the November 2015 ballot in Denver. The goal of the campaign was to change the laws in the city so that adults could congregate and enjoy cannabis socially, just as alcohol consumers do. We were frustrated that this issue was not being addressed by city leaders and wanted to push things forward.
Thanks to the generosity and hard work of supporters who contributed to that effort we collected enough signatures last year to qualify for the ballot. In what some considered a surprise move, we formally withdrew the ballot initiative to work with Denver civic and business leaders who acknowledged the need to address this issue and at the time committed to work with us to develop a social cannabis use law that reflects the interest and concerns of all parties. Our efforts last year put this issue on the collective radar of both city officials and Denver business leaders, and we have had more productive conversations with them about social use in a few weeks last year than we had in the previous two years combined!
Withdrawing was not a decision that was made lightly. The campaign was driven by the same spirit and passion that drove our work on the successful legalization initiative in Denver in 2005, the Amendment 64 campaign in 2012, and efforts to expand the medical marijuana system and cannabis consumers’ rights in all the years in between. There is certainly no fear, as far as campaign leaders are concerned, in pushing the envelope and taking matters to the voters.
But conversations last year convinced campaign leaders that there is a sincere desire on the part of city leaders to address this issue in a collaborative manner. And these are not just closed-door assurances. As you can see in this front page Denver Post story, city officials and prominent business groups have been willing to express publicly their commitment to finding a workable solution to this issue. This is why the NACCPP is working alongside eligible neighborhood organizations and civic leaders to ensure this time around we do it right and with respect to all stakeholders regarding this important discussion.