The Denver City Council will decide on Monday night whether to allow cannabis consumption clubs to operate closer to daycare centers and some other so-called sensitive use facilities than currently permitted. The council is expected to approve the measure after passing it 9-2 in an earlier preliminary vote.
Under the ordinance, cannabis consumption lounges would be permitted to be located within 500 feet of daycare, recreation, and addiction treatment centers. Current law requires cannabis clubs to be located at least 1,000 feet from such facilities. Clubs would still have to be at least 1,000 feet away from schools under the new law.
Cannabis consumption will still not be permitted outside the clubs or in the view of the public. Supporters of the measure say it will allow for more cannabis consumption lounges to open in the city while reducing the use of cannabis in public. Opponents of the measure are concerned about the consequences of loosening cannabis laws in the city even further.
The new ordinance could have made the difference for a cannabis club that activist and business owner Cindy Sovine had planned to open.
“As the second business applicant to apply for a social consumption permit, I went through the gauntlet of state agencies and sought approval,” said Sovine. “I was denied for being 982 feet away from a childcare center.”
Only One Lounge Open Now
Denver currently only has one lounge that permits the consumption of cannabis onsite, but Eric Escudero of the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses said that there are thousands of compliant sites under the current law and the change won’t add that many more.
“So far, the No. 1 impediment to this program’s success hasn’t been proximity restrictions from what we’ve seen because there are approximately 9,000 businesses in Denver that could apply for the license,” Escudero said.
The Coffee Joint is the only licensed cannabis consumption club currently operating in Denver. A second lounge that had been permitted to allow cannabis consumption has already closed. The city also has private clubs that permit consumption under a patron membership program that allows the businesses to operate without violating the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act.