City attorney: There’s no reason Denver couldn’t allow marijuana vaping

The Colorado Clean Indoors Air Act leaves a loophole for vaping in Denver.

A no smoking or vaping sign at a movie theater. (Mike Mozart/Wikimedia)
A no smoking or vaping sign at a movie theater. (Mike Mozart/Wikimedia)
A no smoking or vaping sign at a movie theater. (Mike Mozart/Wikimedia)

There is no state or city law that would prevent cannabis consumers from vaping marijuana in places that receive a social consumption permit.

Smoking joints and blunts would still be barred within yoga studios, concert venues and other establishments due to the restrictions put in place by the Colorado Clean Indoors Air Act. But the act leaves a loophole for vaping marijuana inside permitted businesses and venues in Denver, said city attorney Marley Bordovsky.

Bordovsky specializes in Denver’s code enforcement rules and sits on the Social Consumption Advisory Committee. The committee met for the second time Wednesday to continue ironing out suggested rules and regulations related to Initiative 300.

In theory, the initiative passed in November would allow just about any kind of business that doesn’t sell marijuana to get a cannabis consumption permit under the Neighborhood-Supported Cannabis Consumption Pilot Program. The city started putting out permit application forms Jan. 21 and hopes to finalize all the rules and start issuing permits during the summer.

Permitted businesses would still have to follow local and state rules including not serving alcohol where marijuana is consumed and complying with the Colorado Clean Indoors Air Act.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment didn’t dispute Bordovsky’s reading of the act.

“The CCIAA prohibits smoking in indoor areas that are not otherwise exempted in the Act.  Smoking is defined at Section 25-14-203(16) as ‘the burning of a lighted cigarette, cigar, pipe, or any other matter or substance that contains tobacco or marijuana,'” said department spokesman Mark Salley in an email.

“…. It does not appear the CCIAA covers vaping at all,” Salley said.

Denver’s Department of Environmental Health also didn’t disagree with Bordovsky.

“The Denver city attorney is correct, and vaping is not covered under the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act. Denver does have an Executive Order 99 that covers vaping in municipal buildings so that it is not allowed in municipal buildings,” said Ashley Frederick, tobacco program manager at the department. “The city attorney is also correct that the Denver Revised Municipal Code does not currently cover vaping indoors.”

The Department of Environmental Health is looking into updates to the local smoking ordinances that could deal with vaping, Fredrick said in an email.

The Colorado Clean Indoors Air Act went into effect in 2006 and bans smoking in most public indoor places like stores, libraries and bars. “Vaping is this weird animal that’s never been dealt with,” Bordovsky said.

That essentially means people could vape liquid nicotine anywhere property owners allow it, according to her interpretation. Consuming marijuana products in public settings is still illegal under state law.

“Other states have clean indoor acts and have brought vaping into that,” she said.

Some cities like Fort Collins and Lakewood have also added vaping to their bans on smoking in public areas.

“Denver has not not,” Bordovsky said.

Ellen Rochelle with Denver Vapor tells her customers to definitely ask before vaping inside bars, restaurants and other places in the city.

“Most businesses don’t let you,” Rochelle said. “It’s all up to the business and what they want.”

Business & data reporter Adrian D. Garcia can be reached via email at agarcia@denverite.com or twitter.com/adriandgarcia.

Adrian D. Garcia

Author: Adrian D. Garcia

Adrian D. Garcia is on business and trends for Denverite, serves as treasurer for the Colorado chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and on the board of the Denver Press Club. He can be reached at agarcia@denverite.com.