It is with a heavy heart that I am writing to inform you that the Responsible Use Denver Initiative Ordinance campaign did not make the ballot. For those that were unaware, the Responsible Use Denver initiative sought to legalize private marijuana social clubs and special events for people 21 and over. As it stands right now, such things are prohibited in Denver. As someone who once attended multiple Cannabis Cups in Denver, and also someone who hopes to one day frequent a cannabis arcade, I was rooting for the initiative.
Unfortunately the initiative did not get enough valid signatures to make the ballot. The effort was largely led by Denver NORML, and activists worked their tails off to get every signature that they could. I followed campaign developments all the time on social media, and I would definitely say that the campaign did a great job compared to local campaigns I’ve seen from across the nation.
In the end, it wasn’t enough. But as I said on Twitter today, just because the initiative didn’t make the ballot doesn’t mean that it didn’t make an impact. The initiative got people talking, and spread awareness and highlighted a lot of flaws in current marijuana policy in Denver.
The fact remains that when a tourist flies into Denver, and they are staying at a hotel that doesn’t allow consumption (of which there are many), that tourist has no where to consume their legal cannabis. They can purchase it, and they can go all around Denver with it as long as it’s not in public view, but that’s where it ends. Also, if someone wants to consume cannabis in a social setting, similar to alcohol and hookah bars, there’s no where to go in Denver. Want to go to a really fantastic special event or competition and put some clouds into the air like I did at the Denver Cannabis Cup in 2012? Nope.
The Responsible Use Denver Initiative Ordinance campaign brought to a lot of people’s attention a huge hole in legalization in Denver. Even after legalization was passed by voters, there is still a lot to improve upon in Denver, and a lot of parts of Colorado. As an Oregonian, where clubs aren’t permitted (but special events are), I was rooting for the Denver initiative hoping that it would lead to a similar effort in Portland, Oregon.
I hope the campaign team knows and recognizes the impact that they have had on cannabis policy. The effort didn’t make the ballot, but it put a lot of other wheels in motion, and inspired a lot of activists. I know that it inspired me. I plan on signing up for Portland NORML tonight, and at my first meeting I’m hoping to start a conversation of what it would take to put out a similar effort in Portland. Portland is not Denver, and Oregon is not Colorado, but if there’s a will there’s a way and it’s worth exploring.
A second initiative, the Neighborhood Supported Cannabis Consumption Pilot Program Initiative, can still make the ballot. We should know by next week according to the campaign. The initiative has different provisions than the Denver NORML initiative, namely the neighborhood pre-approval provision, but it still moves the issue forward in areas that would allow it.
I am not familiar with Denver neighborhoods, so I’m not sure which ones have a greater chance of allowing them versus other neighborhoods, but I have to assume that at least some neighborhoods or districts would allow it. It would fix a huge problem that obviously exists in Denver, and I support that. To find out more about the Neighborhood Supported Cannabis Consumption Pilot Program Initiative and how you can help, check out their website.
Kudos again to the Denver NORML crew, keep kicking butt!