The decision to remove I-300’s sunset provision comes after the results of the 10-1 vote.

Monday night, Denver City Council voted to remove the sunset provision from Initiative 300 (“I-300”), the legislation used to establish social cannabis businesses in Denver. Up until this week’s decision, social-use cannabis regulations were scheduled to expire before 2021, however city council’s action now makes them permanent.

Since I-300’s passing in 2016, however, only two businesses have been granted a social-use license. Lengthy requirements and waiting have discouraged prospective business owners while the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses cited state-wide bans on alcohol sales and indoor smoking as a source of difficulty.Rather than working with the Department of Public Health & Environment or the Department of Revenue’s Marijuana Enforcement Division (“MED”), hopeful social-use businesses must complete the Cannabis Consumption Establishment Application and submit it for review by the Department of Excise and Licenses. Speaking during a meeting to assess I-300 last June, Councilwoman Mary Beth Susman commented, “It is concerning that our rules may have thwarted a vote of the people.”2

“With less than two years available, it’s difficult to get financing. If you’re leasing a space, most leases, they’re three to five years. And then you’d have to get funds to build out the space,” Councilwoman Kendra Black explained. “And so it’s just really not feasible for a prospective business to open a business in that time frame.”3

Dissenting opinions from other councilmembers has primarily focused on the bigger picture of social-use regulations. Councilman Kevin Flynn emphasized the importance of a ‘comprehensive package of changes” aimed to address general program complaints, rather than remove the sunset clause.Ultimately, Flynn was the only opposing vote, which was settled 10-1.

Denver looks to be re-evaluating and revisiting several proposals initially vetoed by former governor John Hickenlooper (D) following the election of Gov. Jared Polis. In June of 2018, Polis publicly criticized Hickenlooper’s vetoing of HB 1011, HB 1263, and HB 1258 – which would have allowed for the creation of cannabis consumption establishments.5

According to The Denver Post, officials are also reviewing the distance restrictions for cannabis consumption businesses.6


  1. Mitchell, Thomas. “A Cloud Divided: Tensions Rise as Social Pot-Use Program Struggles.” Westword, Denver Westword, LLC, 17 Dec. 2018,
  2. Murray, Jon. “Denver’s First-of-Its-Kind Social Marijuana Use Program for Businesses Is Mostly a Bust. Can It Be Fixed?” The Denver Post, MediaNews Group, Inc., 25 Jan. 2019,
  3. Kenney, Andrew. “Denver Just Made a Big Change on Social-Use Cannabis: It Will Be Permanent.” The Denver Post, MediaNews Group, Inc., 25 Feb. 2019,
  4. Kenney, Andrew. “Denver Just Made a Big Change on Social-Use Cannabis: It Will Be Permanent.”
  5. Jaeger, Kyle. “Rep. Jared Polis Criticizes Colorado Governor’s Marijuana Vetoes.” Marijuana Moment, Marijuana Moment LLC (TM) and Tom Angell, 7 June 2018,
  6. Kenney, Andrew. “Denver Just Made a Big Change on Social-Use Cannabis: It Will Be Permanent.”


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