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Colorado Legislature Fails to Resolve Public Use Issue

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Nearly five years after Coloradans voted to legalize adult cannabis use and possession, residents are still wondering if it’s cool to blaze on their front porches. State lawmakers debated this during the spring legislative session, but left it on the table.

The issue boils down to differing interpretations of Amendment 64, the 2012 ballot initiative that legalized recreational sales. It prohibits marijuana use when “conducted openly and publicly or in a manner that endangers others.” But state lawmakers were unable to agree on whether front-porch cannabis consumption counts as “open and public” use.

Republican state Sen. Bob Gardner said he was concerned that in urban and suburban areas «property lines are so close that children walking up and down sidewalks» would be less than 15 feet away says Republican state Sen. Bob Gardner. Denver Democrat Sen. Lois Court added that contact highs were “the impact on kids I’m really concerned about.”

In Denver, city laws allow for marijuana consumption anywhere on private property—regardless if it’s visible from public space. Pot advocates want to see this standard adopted statewide, reports the Denver Post.

Last November, voters there approved a measure to create a pilot program for social cannabis use. In May, city regulators released proposed rules for it. They plan to start accepting license applications in July. Businesses that apply for a social-use license will have to ask consumers to sign a waiver that declares he or she “is responsible for his/her own actions, will consume responsibly, will not drive impaired, and will not sell or distribute marijuana for remuneration.»

The draft rules also call for restrictions on public advertising and on consuming alcohol and marijuana at the same time, as well as mandating ventilation for vaping. Applicants are required to hold a public hearing to determine community support for the social-use retail location.

While these proposed rules seem onerous, at least Denver is moving to address the issue. State lawmakers will likely revisit social use thanks to this local push.