Denver’s New Law Finally Allows People to Enjoy Weed in Public

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Denver’s pot-friendly atmosphere will soon include a place to enjoy your weed.

A recently passed measure allows businesses of pretty much any kind to create a section or area for marijuana consumption, so long as they get approval from local neighborhood or business organizations. That means anyone, from a bar owner to a yoga studio operator, can create a zone where smoking and vaping are permitted.

Denver is the right place for the social experiment to begin. They’ve had legal recreational marijuana for four years now, and Colorado made an estimated $100 million in tax revenue from the sale of recreational marijuana last year, with as much as 17 percent of that coming from out-of-state tourist consumption.

But despite a friendly legal buying environment, actually enjoying the products has been another issue, especially for tourists. It’s illegal in parks, hotels — anywhere out-of-towners who don’t have a private residence might think to go to enjoy it.

As you might expect, there’s concern from opposition, and that’s understandable. The phrase “smoking section” conjures the grimy image of cigarette clouds wafting from one side of a restaurant to the other — something Coloradans haven't seen in a decade.

But public opinion has been shifting toward weed and away from tobacco for years, and letting private businesses opt in on having a smoking section will also give customers a choice.

Whether this looks like Amsterdam’s cafes is another story. Dispensaries, and venues in which to partake, will still be separate under this rule. In other words, plan ahead if you plan to visit.

At the moment, the marijuana social options are private events, like guided food tours and the occasional private dinner. But allowing people to smoke and vape in already popular locations will do much more to normalize weed consumption, especially since the majority of users can’t afford higher-end cooking classes and limo services.

The initiative is actually a four-year pilot program, which the local government has the option to extend or make permanent in 2020. So maybe if we follow the rules, this will spread to other cities in states that have recently legalized recreational weed.

In the meantime, let's all be really polite and thankful when we visit, so that Denver will let us have a beer or a glass of wine with friends — while passing around a good vaporizer.