It’s coming. Public marijuana use may not be legal in most areas of the United States just yet, but between public pressure and standard logic, it will be eventually. Proponents of being able to enjoy weed in public make a huge point that cannot be denied: smoking remains legal in many public spaces. If individuals cannot opt out of being around secondhand smoke, why is pot any different?
The roadblocks to public smoking are varied, but the number one block is likely the fact that pot remains a Schedule 1 substance, giving it the same level of damage as heroine. Until this egregious linking is corrected, the chance of weed being destigmatized in public overall remains slim. Two things give proponents hope here: the continued legalization across the country as well as the studies being conducted on weed that were previously banned due to the restrictive laws on the plant.
Proponents can also point to history being on their side as of January 18, 2017. This was the day that Denver began working on making it legal to smoke weed in public in the city. While it doesn’t allow smoking indiscriminately, it does stipulate being freely able to smoke in places such as yoga studios and art galleries. Under this proposed legislation, it would even be legal in coffee shops, a decision that would no doubt help businesses generate even more revenue in the area.
Also known as social use, public marijuana use was voted on and passed in the city in 2016. Some stipulations made included that users must be at least 21 years of age and the drug cannot be smoked indoors, giving nonsmokers the option to avoid secondhand smoke as they might with cigarettes. Businesses that sell liquor will not be able to allow pot smoking on the premises as part of the legislation.
Approval of marijuana use by residents of each neighborhood may be required prior to allowing the new rule to go into effect in any part of the city, giving residents a bit of power in determining whether or not they have pot in their neighborhoods. There’s also the fact that businesses that allow pot use will remain unable to sell the drug, eliminating possible conflicts of interest, maintaining an ethical practice and attracting additional tourism in the city all at once. As such, patrons will be required to purchase and bring their own marijuana to enjoy socially at the venues who offer public use space.
While oppositional forces against the bill argue that there are no steps in place to protect patrons from smoking too much, they seem to forget that there are already laws in existence to regulate how much weed a person buys at any given time. Just as with alcohol, adults must be trusted to follow the law as it stands, facing penalties should any violations occur.
Once Denver has a long history of social marijuana use under the city’s belt, many other cities will soon follow suit.