Denver’s Neighborhood-Supported Cannabis Consumption Pilot Program – RNO/BID & BUSINESS IMPLEMENTATION PANEL

Wednesday January 11, 2017

Questions or inquiries may be sent to


Emmett Reistroffer: Policy Consultant at Denver Relief Consultant, Campaign Director for ‘Yes on 300’, former licensing official in Englewood, CO.

Joshua Kappel, Esq.: Partner at Vicente Sederberg LLC, Associate Director of Sensible Colorado, and founding member of the Council on Responsible Cannabis Regulations (CRCR) and the National Cannabis Bar Association (NCBA).

Maureen McNamara: Founder & Chief Facilitator for Cannabis Trainers, with 20+ years of  professional training experience, Maureen has trained and certified 10,000+ employees,  managers and owners in national (ANSI) programs.

Don Novak: President of the Bluebird Business Improvement District.


1. Is it legal to use cannabis in public places?
No. Currently it is illegal to use cannabis (marijuana) in all public places. This includes common public places like streets, sidewalks, and bus/light rail stations, as well as businesses that are open to the public such as bars, concerts venues, etc. Those who are using cannabis in these places are doing so illegally. Initiative 300 seeks to lift these prohibitions to the extent a locality has authority and to the extent neighborhoods see fit, while respecting the rights of people who do not consume cannabis and do not want to be exposed to it!

2. Why do people need places to consume?
As stated above, it is illegal to use cannabis almost anywhere in Denver. Most landlords prohibit cannabis use at home, all federally subsidized housing prohibits smoking, and the overwhelming majority of hotels prohibit cannabis use in hotel rooms.  In addition, many users who live with children and grandparents would prefer to have separate space to consume outside of the home. Unless you are a homeowner, there are very few legal places for patients and adult users to consume cannabis in Denver.

3. Who will be issuing these permits?
The Director of Excise and Licensing in Denver is responsible for issuing permits, and City Council will be required to create additional rules governing the pilot program. Registered neighborhood organizations encompassing the proposed location of the designated consumption areas also have the authority to impose additional restrictions and safety requirements.

4. Does the pilot program allow smoking cannabis indoors?
No. This initiative is compliant with the Clean Indoor Air Act, which means that users will not be able to smoke cannabis indoors. Users will be permitted to vape within indoor designated consumption areas. In addition, some establishments may be exempt from the Clean Indoor Air Act and may be able to allow smoking indoors, in compliance with other state and local laws.

5. I do not like the smell of cannabis. Will odor be prevented from affecting neighbors?
Yes. An odor control plan is required for all permitted establishments. In addition, this initiative permits registered neighborhood organizations to impose additional requirements on the permit holder, which may include the requirement that odor filtration technology be used within a designated consumption area. Distance buffers, hours of operation, and building modifications may also be imposed.

6. Could these businesses permit cannabis consumption anywhere in Denver?
No. Similar to licensed marijuana production facilities and stores, designated consumption areas may not be located within 1,000 feet of a school or place where children congregate. Neighborhood organizations can say no in their neighborhood, or impose additional limitations as they see fit.

7. Does the pilot program allow special events?
Yes. Nothing in the initiative prohibits one-time use permits or designated dates/times for consumption. A neighborhood organization may support a special event or limit the permit to only certain days.

8. Can establishments with a liquor license apply for a permit?
No. The Colorado Department of Revenue promulgated a regulation right before the November election to ban the consumption of marijuana on the premise of any business that holds a liquor license, at any time. Although initiative 300 did not prohibit designated consumption areas on the same premises, under this policy change, any liquor license holder who allows marijuana consumption on their premise at any time, regardless of hours of operation or whether liquor is even being served, the business will lose their license.