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Denver Will Be the First US City to Allow the Use of Marijuana in Bars and Restaurants

Denver voters passed Proposition 300, and the use weed in restaurants and bars is now legalized—but there's still a catch before you light up a joint at your table.

by Alex Swerdloff
Nov 17 2016, 4:00pm

Photo via Flickr user Unai Mateo Photography

With Trump's surprise win and chaos overtaking the DNC, America's future seems increasingly uncertain, but not everything that came out of last week's election was an unmitigated disaster. As you are likely already aware, marijuana won pretty big, with several states passing either recreational or medical initiatives. That said, you may have missed this all-important measure, buried in the morass of news of late: Denver voters passed Proposition 300, which made it the first city in the land to allow people to use marijuana in bars and restaurants.

Colorado's progressive pot laws do not currently restrict or permit public marijuana use, so local ordinances have tried to fill the gap, resulting in a patchwork quilt of rules. Denver has now taken a stand, allowing its bars and restaurants to apply for a permit regarding the use of weed indoors—as long as it isn't smoked—and the smoking of pot in designated outdoor areas.

Patrons will have to bring their own stash, though; the restaurants and bars will not be authorized to sell the stuff because state law bans the sale of both marijuana and food or drink at one location.

READ MORE: How an LA Weed Dispensary Pissed Off the Girl Scouts

Complicating the application process for bars and restaurants is this: Businesses will first have to show they have "neighborhood support." Opponents to the bill raised concerns that neighbors wouldn't like the cropping up of Amsterdam-style coffee bars all over the city. But proponents of the measures said the regulation would lessen the problem of people—and especially tourists—smoking on the streets of Denver.

Mason Tvert of the national Marijuana Policy Project, which supported the proposition, said the law would benefit Denverites: "The entire goal of this initiative is to provide adults with private places where they can consume cannabis so they're not consuming in public."

The new law also requires bars and restaurants that allow marijuana use on site to train their staff and submit an operations plan. Restaurant workers will be required to learn how to prevent underage use and how to identify—and deal with—overly intoxicated customers.

We have a feeling that restaurant and bar workers who already know how to deal with drunks, can readily handle the super-wasted.

READ MORE: This LA Caterer Will Cook You a Weed-Infused, Multi-Course Feast

The new law will also allow so-called "non-service businesses" in Denver, like yoga studios and art galleries, to set up cannabis-usage areas or hold events in which weed, food, and drink are served.

"It's the sensible thing to do," said Emmett Reistroffer, a consultant who calls himself a "pioneer" for the cannabis movement. "This is about personal responsibility and respecting adults who want to have a place to enjoy cannabis."