Update: Cannabition's move to NORAD blocked; organizers release statement
Cannabition, a January 1 blowout, has been canceled thanks to a not-so-vague memo the promoters received from the City of Denver on Friday afternoon, warning that not only business owners could be punished if the bash were held, but any person in attendance caught lighting up could (and probably would) be cited for public consumption of cannabis.
Event organizers meant with sponsors yesterday to see if they could salvage the event, and released this announcement late last night:
From Matt Brown:
By now many of you know that on Friday afternoon the City of Denver took the extraordinary step of hand-delivering a letter to the owners of Norad Dance Bar threatening the venue's liquor license and legal action against all sponsors and participants, should Cannabition proceed as planned. We have released a full statement regarding this issue on our website, Cannabition.com.Here's the rest of our original post:
It is unfortunate that the City of Denver has chosen to take such a hardline stand against the idea of adults assembling to legally celebrate the unprecedented milestone represented by Amendment 64. The world has descended on Denver this week to witness the birth of the first legal, regulated marijuana system in the post-WWII era. We have all achieved this historic moment because at every step in the process the citizens and government of Colorado have engaged in a good faith conversation to find compromise instead of stonewalling questions from those who simply wish to follow the rules.
At this point it is too late to attempt to move the event to a 3rd location, and after a month of back and forth with the city it appears unlikely we will receive an answer to our original question in time to hold any sort of event on Jan 1. So instead we will be focusing our immediate efforts on helping those who wanted to celebrate with us a discount on one of 2 major New Years Eve events going on in Denver, and a guided tour of a dispensary & cultivation center for credentialed media in town to cover the opening of retail marijuana stores.
While it certainly isn't the sort of celebration we intended, it seems this will be the most celebration the city of Denver will allow at this point. Once the dust settles from this week's excitement we expect the city to engage us in the same good faith dialog that we have attempted with them throughout this month. It is disingenuous for the city to tell the world that Colorado is open for business when such major questions remain regarding what happens after "seed to sale", when the whole point of amendment 64 is for law abiding adults to be able to responsibly consume cannabis without fear or retaliation.
In a city with 67,000 adult cannabis consumers, plus over 1 million cannabis-using tourists per year, it is time to revisit the issue of consumption somewhere other than your home. We have handled the first two major facets of cannabis legalization - cultivation and distribution - and now it is time to give consumption the same good faith conversation. Until we are willing to address this major issue, we will not have achieved the basic parity between cannabis consumers and nonconsumers envisioned by Amendment 64....
We are truly sorry that we were unable to hold the Cannabition event as originally intended. However we remain devoted to getting answers to this important question of legal private cannabis events, and we will reschedule this event when we have enough clarity from the City of Denver on how responsible adults can consume cannabis legally, in private, somewhere other than their home.
The citizens of Colorado - regardless of their decision to use cannabis - deserve clear guidance on this question.
After the venue change to NORAD from City Hall was announced to last week, Cannabition promoters thought they were in the clear. Then late Friday a letter was hand-delivered from the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses to NORAD:
We provide you with this letter to dissuade you from hosting the event; however, if you go forward, we will exercise any and all options available to the City of Denver to halt the event and hold the business owners responsible for violations of law. We are also ready to hold individual attendees responsible for violations of City ordinances prohibiting public consumption of marijuana.
Promoters say they heard the message from the city loud and clear. In a message on the Cannabition website, they announce that the private party from noon until 5 p.m. on January 1 at NORAD that was supposed to be an open puff-fest has now been cancelled:
Cannabition is a special event for all of us because we're so excited to show the world that we can follow the rules AND still have the same protections and privileges under the law as those who don't choose cannabis. We can't in good faith forge ahead with the noon - 5pm part of the event with such huge lingering uncertainty, and if we can't be sure that we are following the law then this becomes just another pot party. And that misses the point.
But according to a note we received from Matt Brown, who is putting on the event, there could possibly be a light at the end of the tunnel. We'll all apparently know more at 4 p.m. today:
"I wanted to give you a heads up about our plans for Cannabition this week after last friday's change of plans. After we received the letter from the city Friday afternoon it was pretty clear that trying to put on a central event anywhere was not a good idea, since it's not clear that we would have been left alone -- much less legal -- even in an empty warehouse on the edge of town. So instead we've decided to focus on making the first day of retail sales as much fun as possible at any of the dispensaries that are open in time. It doesn't look like we'll be able to offer the shuttle buses, since we won't have a central hub for people to go, but we are waiting to hear back from Uber to see if they will still offer the $20 free ride credit originally planned for people at our event. The sponsors will be meeting at 10 a.m. tomorrow to bring together everyone's ideas and get replacement plans locked in for Wed."
Read our first story on the move from NORAD to City Hall here.
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From our marijuana archives: "Marijuana tour company touts 4/20 in Colorado."