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'Yes On 300' Marijuana Supporters Declare Victory In Denver

By Lauren DiSpirito

DENVER (CBS4) - With a more than 17,000 vote lead, proponents of Denver's Initiative 300 are claiming victory.

Results published by Denver election officials at 6 p.m. on Monday showed support for the ballot measure leading 53 percent to 47 percent, with overseas and military voters' ballots still not counted.

Initiative 300 creates a pilot program that would let Denver bar and restaurant owners and other business owners apply for permits allowing for "bring-your-own" social marijuana use at their establishments. The permit would require neighborhood approval, by a city-registered group or a business district.

marijuana joint smoking pot
(credit: CBS)

Under the permit, an establishment could allow people 21 and over to vape and consume cannabis products indoors in designated areas, and smoke outdoors, not within 100 feet of a school and not visible from a public right of way.

Emmett Reistroffer, campaign director for Yes on 300, says the tally is close enough to declare a winner.

"We do believe we've exceeded the margin necessary to declare a victory," Reistroffer said.

Backers of the initiative say the measure protects people who do not want to be exposed to marijuana and gives those who live in public housing -- or where landlord policies prohibit smoking -- places to use marijuana socially.

"We don't want this in public," Reistroffer said, "we want this in private places where it's permitted, where it's only for adults 21 and over and where the staff are trained to be in charge of these environments."

Opponents of Initiative 300 are not conceding yet. Rachel O'Bryan, campaign manager for the Protect Denver's Atmosphere: Vote No on 300 Committee, says vote results thus far indicate there are many residents in Denver who do not want to allow for such cannabis use. She says opponents will not give up.

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"The next step will be to ask the city to very carefully consider implementation and to possibly seek guidance from the Colorado Attorney General's Office," O'Bryan said.

She says safety and health concerns top the list of reasons to oppose the move. O'Bryan says provisions within the measure for neighborhood approval may not actually work or allow for enough engagement in the permitting process.

"We were told four years ago in the amendment that marijuana consumption would not be conducted openly and publicly," O'Bryan said. "Now we're going to have marijuana on rooftops and patios, that's open and public, there's no two ways about it."

Proponents of Initiative 300 have planned a news conference to be held Tuesday at 1 p.m. in front of the Denver City-County Building at 1437 Bannock Street.

Lauren DiSpirito reports for CBS4 News at 10 p.m. She covers breaking news and feature stories along Colorado's Front Range. Follow her on Twitter @CBS4Lauren. Share your story ideas with her here.

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