Denver Mayor Michael Hancock has stated that he may be open to doing away with the city’s ban on cannabis clubs.
When Denver created its regulatory framework for retail marijuana in 2013, Mayor Hancock asked the City Council to ban cannabis clubs, where adults would have been able to smoke publicly.
“I propose and advocate for the most restrictive regulatory environment for marijuana,” said Hancock in 2013. “And I believe that by allowing private clubs, it doesn’t speak to that value.”
The city has enforced this policy strictly, but now Hancock says he may be open to changing it.
In an interview with the Denver Post, Mayor Hancock said that unmanageable levels of public consumption may necessitate the legalization of cannabis clubs:
“When you start looking at what the users are doing, whether they are visitors, walking up and down the mall and smoking in our parks, you recognize if someone doesn’t have a residence here that they have got to have an outlet. I haven’t said, ‘Yes.’ But I have said, ‘Give me more information.’”
Denver is confronting a problem that cities throughout the U.S. will likely confront in the future. If cities want to ban public use, they should also provide spaces where adults can smoke legally outside of their homes.
Hancock said the police department is also frustrated with the current system: while public use is illegal, it is not a criminal violation; police can only issue civil fines for such infractions.
“This is a great deal of frustration for the police department that they are not able to truly cite someone,” said Hancock.
Rep. Jonathan Singer (D-Longmont) said lawmakers should resolve the issue this year, noting that the current regulations put tourists in a bind.
“We say come to Colorado and buy our products, but, by the way don’t consume them at your hotel or in the streets and don’t take them out of the state when you leave,” he said.