Denver’s vote on Initiative 300, the measure meant to permit limited cannabis consumption inside certain businesses, was too close to call in early returns Tuesday evening.
With 45 percent of the projected vote counted at 9:20 p.m., the yes vote was leading with 92,583 votes, or 50.6 percent, to 90,394 votes against, or 49.4 percent.
For nearly three years anyone 21 and older has been able to purchase legal marijuana — but most tourists and many residents don’t have access to a space where the legal consumption of cannabis flower, edibles or concentrates is allowed. A few small localities have licensed a small number of cannabis-only clubs, and consumption is also legal inside private residences — but only with the permission of the homeowner.
Initiative 300 would create a four-year pilot program in Denver allowing regular businesses, such as bars, cafes or art galleries, to seek permits for bring-your-own-cannabis, 21-and-over consumption areas that are indoors (for vaping and edibles) or outdoors a certain distance from public spaces such as sidewalks (for smoking).
Applicants for annual or temporary permits would need backing from a single neighborhood group, such as a city-registered neighborhood organization or Business Improvement District. Those groups could set operating conditions in exchange for their support.
Initiative 300 was endorsed by the Democratic Party of Denver, Sen. Irene Aguilar and Rep. Jonathan Singer. But Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper told The Denver Post he would vote against the measure.
It was also unclear in early returns how the recreational marijuana repeal measure in Pueblo County would fare. Earlier Tuesday, the county reported issues with counting ballots, causing results to be delayed for hours.
Pueblo County residents were voting on Question 200, a measure that would repeal legal marijuana ordinances for the sale, cultivation and processing of recreational cannabis. A similar measure, Question 300, was put before residents in the city of Pueblo, which is a home-rule municipality.
Staff writer Alicia Wallace contributed to this report.