Background & Litigation
Last November, Denver voters approved Initiative 300, the Neighborhood-Supported Social Consumption Initiative, with 53.6 percent of total votes. It established a pilot program set to expire in 2020 and allows some businesses--including restaurants, cafes, concert venues, art galleries, and yoga studios--to seek a permit for designated 21+ cannabis consumption areas. The permit could be for indoor or outdoor areas, as long as consumption isn't visible to the public, complies with air quality laws, is limited to adults 21 and older, and receives support from the local registered neighborhood organization.
Just days after the final votes for I-300 were tallied, the Liquor Enforcement Division within the Colorado Department of Revenue bypassed all red tape and passed a regulation, 47-900, to prohibit businesses with a liquor license from entering the pilot program. This by necessity includes concert venues, comedy clubs, and cafes that serve any beer, wine, or liquor, not just full-fledged bars. Soon after regulation 47-900 was introduced, the campaign decided to file a suit in court.
This rule hobbles implementation by blocking nearly every restaurant, entertainment venue, bar, and concert hall from participating in the program. If left unchanged, I-300 will officially be gravely diverted from its original intent. We intend to show this is a broad, overreaching policy and that implementation of laws should be done by policymakers and not pre-emptively by a state agency with special interests. This law, being the first of its kind, will set precedents and define the rules of the game for municipalities that wish to regulate social use in the future.
Who We Are & Why We're Fundraising
I-300 was passed through true grassroots efforts. As the campaign's architects and managers, myself and Kayvan Khalatbari worked endlessly to rally local businesses and entities, coordinate volunteers, and promote the program's passage on our own time. We have contributed thousands of our own dollars in addition to countless hours of work. As we intend to see I-300 through to the end, this lawsuit against the Liquor Enforcement Division is a necessary step in voicing the voters' will. However, so many of our resources went to the campaign that now we are not in the position to support ourselves entirely.
Dual consumption is happening in and around bars, concert venues, and other public places every day. Local municipalities are considering this issue carefully. All public policy ideas and solutions should be considered before any statute, rule, or regulation is adopted. Independent of the rule's content content, the Liquor Enforcement Division's manner of introducing 47-900 was ill-timed, threatens to distract from more productive brainstorming, and constitutes overreach. The discussion around addressing dual consumption should be left to the General Assembly and local municipalities as a matter of public safety.
We ask you to please support our efforts to put a check on the liquor industry and state regulators as they attempt broad overreach through administrative rulemaking. Meeting our fundraising goal of $5,000 would allow us to file suit against this arbitrary rule-making process as quickly as possible and return I-300 to what the citizens voted for. Please help us stop the liquor industry and state regulators from broad over-reach through administrative rule-making that is contrary to the spirit of voter-approved I-300. Help us keep legislative and social policy decisions in the hands of voters and elected officials, not special interests and state agencies.
Emmett Reistroffer and Kayvan Khalatbari
Yes on 300 - Neighborhood-Supported Social Use
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