Dinner, Drinks and Doobies?

A new initiative would allow weed in Denver bars and restaurants; any chance Washington would follow suit?

A new initiative — the collaborative effort of the Marijuana Policy Project, a Denver city councilman and the Downtown Denver Partnership — seeks to legalize cannabis usage in designated places in the Mile High City.

"Our intention with pursuing this initiative was to reduce the likelihood that adults would consume marijuana publicly on the streets or in parks and instead consume it in private establishments," the Marijuana Policy Project's Mason Tvert tells Colorado Public Radio.

While there are high hopes for the policy in Denver, Brian Smith, a spokesman for the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, isn't so sure that initiative would fly in Washington.

"Washington's law is pretty strict about where and how you can consume," he says. "I haven't seen the legislature even consider that."

According to Smith, a lot of legal tweaking would need to take place before a proposal to legalize public consumption stood a chance.

"Any restaurant, by its definition, is a public place," he said. "You would have to revise the law that would redefine what a public place is and where it could be consumed."

As the law currently states, marijuana can only be consumed in a private residence, which puts a hold on the plans of many tourists who flock to Washington and Colorado's numerous retail pot stores.

According to Colorado Public Radio, Denver police handed out more than 1,000 public consumption and display citations in 2014 — a 471 percent increase since marijuana became legal in Colorado in late 2012.

The proposed policy would strive to curb those citations by providing both locals and tourists a legal place to smoke. But will the proposal actually curb public consumption?

"It seems that whenever one door opens, things just flow through it and new ones open after that," Smith says. "Whether it's going to be the end, the answer to that, I don't think anyone really knows."

Smith says there has been talk of creating smoking lounges in Washington, but that for the time being, there are no plans to legalize public consumption.

"We would want to make sure that whatever we do focuses on keeping it out of the criminal element, keeping it away from kids and consistent with the law," he says. ♦