Colorado venues trying to be marijuana friendly

1044098_417327628380756_390766604_nDenver • A recent flier for a “4/20-friendly” comedy and burlesque show at Herman’s Hideaway featured marijuana-leaf logos, sponsorship from the Daily Doobie newspaper and a note that the “smokeout starts at 7:10 p.m., show at 8:30.”

The promise of consequence-free pot consumption is more than a marketing tactic, show co-organizer Cameron V. Humanity said. It’s a take-charge solution to the unresolved problem of public pot use in Denver. “What the city wants is for it to not be used openly and publicly, and that’s why we do it inside,” said Humanity, a Denver comedian and co-owner of Sketchy Entertainment, the show’s promoter.

Whether it’s indoors or outside, marijuana use is prohibited in any space open to the public in Colorado, despite being approved for recreational sale and private use with the passage of Amendment 64 in November 2012.

Some business owners say that creates a fundamental problem when trying to regulate cannabis like alcohol, as Amendment 64 was intended to do.

“We’re going to have a major nuisance issue once the new year comes because we’re allowing millions of people to theoretically come and purchase marijuana, but there’s no plan to consume it,” said Kayvan Khalatbari, co-owner of the Denver Relief dispensary and a national cannabis consultant.

An increasing number of Colorado shows and concerts, from stand-up comedy to hip-hop and jam bands, are being promoted as marijuana-friendly — with the implication that the staff will ignore any pot use, as has been the custom at many rock concerts for decades.

But the cloud of uncertainty remains potent thanks to the still-evolving laws and negative impact a complaint could potentially have on the venue’s liquor license.

“I can guarantee we’re not going to turn a blind eye to the laws the City Council passes,” said Sgt. Steve Warneke, a Denver Police Department spokesman . “But officers use their discretion when there’s the odor of marijuana at a concert venue, and a lot of (the law) isn’t clear right now. We’re starting from scratch.”

The 2006 Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act, which prohibits cigarette and cigar smoking in most bars, restaurants and venues, was amended this year to include marijuana smoking. Police in various cities and municipalities are charged with interpreting and enforcing that law.

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