Six months of public input, prohibitionist outrage, and Denver cannabis backers’ dis-belief has given way to the final rules for adding DCA (designated cannabis consumption areas) under Denver’s Initiative-300 released on June 30.

Denver’s director of Excise and Licensing Ashley Kilroy (who oversaw the advisory group’s meetings) said last month, “This is just to provide a place for like-minded people to consume marijuana, and they’re hoping it will also alleviate people consuming in public. It was never to be moneymaking,” she said.

cannabis consumption areas
A. Kilroy

But advisory group member and I-300 campaign manager Emmett Reistroffer disagreed, claiming Kilroy was “out-of-touch” with businesses who considered getting an I-300 permit. “There were numerous concerns raised by Dan Landes (advisory group business member, Campus Lounge) that he would not pursue a permit because the biggest barrier was that it would cost too much and there was no way to make money,” Reistroffer said, adding “the fact is, this pilot program will absolutely fail if businesses cannot monetize their establishments under the restrictive rules.”

While a one-year (or continuous) add-on to a restaurant or coffee shop could gain back some of the added staff, $2000 application/operating fees, and required building changes, planning on a single-day cannabis consumption event under the new rules seem daunting.

Here is a check-list:

  1. You must apply for a permit 120 days ahead of the date you want to host a 1-day special event, and it cannot take place at any city-owned venue, anyplace that serves booze, or anywhere persons under 21 are “likely to congregate.” (Special events permits for serving liquor last for 30 days).
  2. You must pay $1000 to apply and you must have a letter approving your use (or a showing of non-opposition) from a local neighborhood group.
  3. Sponsors and applicants must pass a rigorous personal and criminal review.
  4. You must submit an “operating plan” on how you will monitor over-use, teen access, and overseeing adults who might drive away “impaired”.
  5. You must submit a “waste plan” to outline how you plan to dispose of any marijuana left behind by patrons.
  6. You must be 1000 feet (from the property line to the front door of your consumption event) from all schools, city swimming pools, drug and alcohol rehab “facilities”, childcare centers or providers, and you could be subject to other buffers which might be added by Denver Zoning. (Note: if you are a bar, you only need to be 500 feet from a school, but you may seek a waiver to be closer).
  7. As a proposed area of an existing business, you must face a public hearing so that opposed parties may once again, push for you to be prohibited from activity approved by 53% of Denver voters in November, 2016.
  8. If you get this far, you must pay another $1000 for your one-year (or one-day) permit. Assuming you have fulfilled all other requirements (most not outlined in the June 30th rulemaking) by City Planning, the Denver Fire department and the city building/zoning department, the permit should be expected to issue.

Excise and Licensing spokesman Dan Rowland thinks August 31 will be the opening day for applications, noting that “the application could not be created in our platform until all of the requirements were finalized. We’re hoping to have applications available soon, and with any luck we’ll move up the date by which we can start accepting them. But it’s still Aug. 31 for now.” In any DCA, only vaping of cannabis or oils is allowed indoors, and dabbing may take place as long as no LPG torches are utilized.

See the full set of rules here