The Columbian / Associated Press

Denver leaders to discuss allowing pot in some clubs, bars

DENVER — Supporters of a proposed ballot initiative to allow marijuana use in some Denver clubs, bars and hotels are pulling the measure while they negotiate with city officials amid concerns that it could create “a bad chamber of commerce moment” if it passes.

Officials promised to work on a compromise to give others time to weigh in on the proposal. City and business leaders expect the proponents to cancel their initiative plans Thursday, before Friday’s deadline to verify if there are 4,700 valid signatures to put it on the ballot.

Mason Tvert of the Marijuana Policy Project said proponents of the ballot measure want to give the city time to pass an ordinance. They want guests of private clubs — and some bars, hotels and motels — to be able to use marijuana vaporizers similar to electronic cigarettes and smoke pot outdoors where it is now prohibited.

“This would not allow public use. It would allow limited social marijuana consumption in some commercial establishments. We believe in the language we put forward and that adults, who consume cannabis, deserve the same freedoms to congregate as those who consume alcohol,” Tvert said.

Tvert said the mayor, business owners and Denver City Council oppose the measure in its current form, so they would rather work on a compromise that could satisfy their concerns.

Amie Mayhew, spokeswoman for the Colorado Hotel and Lodging Association, said some guests want to buy marijuana and want to know where they can use it legally and safely. Marijuana use is currently banned in hotels, bars and other places open to the public, including those that set aside areas for cigarette smoking.

Mayhew said guests who want to comply with the law are forced to smoke or inhale marijuana in their cars, alleys and other places that may not be safe. She said lodging owners want to protect their guests and would support private clubs, but they would draw the line at allowing use in hotel and motel rooms.

Mayhew said the proposed law is too broad. As it’s written, it could allow a parking lot to put up a fence and allow marijuana use by providing a private area not open to minors, she said.

“We don’t need a bad chamber of commerce moment” that would dissuade people from coming to Denver, she said.