Denver’s ballot measure on social pot use appeared more likely to win passage with the release of updated election results Monday night.

Not all votes are in yet — but it would take a major shift in the tide to change the result. Support for Initiative 300 was leading 53 percent to 47 percent in updated results released at 6 p.m., prompting its backers to declare victory soon after. An opposition group was not yet ready to concede defeat.

So far, the margin of support for 300 has increased with each day’s updated results. Although more ballots remain outstanding than the current margin — which stands at 17,173 votes — it would take a supermajority of opposition in the remaining votes to change the result.

The measure would allow businesses, from bars to cafes and even yoga studios, to seek permits to create “consumption areas” if they obtain backing from a local neighborhood or business group.

“We are truly grateful to the people of Denver for approving this sensible measure to allow social cannabis use in the city,” lead proponent Kayvan Khalatbari, co-owner of Denver Relief Consulting, said in a statement. “This is a victory for cannabis consumers who, like alcohol consumers, simply want the option to enjoy cannabis in social settings.

“It is also a victory for the city of Denver, its diverse neighborhoods and those who don’t consume cannabis, as it will reduce the likelihood that adults will resort to consuming in public.”

Before Monday, an estimated 45,000 ballots turned in by Denver residents through the Nov. 8 election remained to be counted in the main run. The 6 p.m. update reflected the tabulation of about 13,000 more, leaving roughly 32,000 remaining. But Denver Elections Division spokesman Alton Dillard said the new results didn’t reflect all work done Monday, and workers would continue scanning ballots into the evening.

He expected a “much larger” results update would be issued Tuesday morning.

Some counting of other ballots may occur in coming days, before the election is certified, as military and overseas ballots come in and as voters whose signatures were flagged respond to notifications to affirm that they voted.

Initiative 300’s lead has ranged from 1.3 percentage points a few hours after polls closed Tuesday to 5.3 percentage points Friday night, when processing stopped for the weekend. It widened to 6 percentage points Monday.

The ballot measure has been performing well in central and north Denver, while opposition has led in large pockets of southwest, southeast and northeast neighbourhoods.

An opposition group called Protect Denver’s Atmosphere campaigned against Initiative 300, arguing its passage would encourage more public use — which is banned by state law — and harm public safety.

“We’re waiting for an official call on this, or for the outstanding ballots to be less than the margin” before conceding, said the group’s campaign manager, Rachel O’Bryan.

The initiative is backed by some marijuana activists and business owners. It takes a different approach from the private cannabis clubs that have sprung up in some Colorado cities and towns. Instead of authorizing clubs, it’s aimed at allowing marijuana use at some regular businesses.

Interested businesses would seek annual or temporary permits for over-age-21 consumption areas, accommodating customers who bring their own marijuana products. Those areas could be indoors (allowing vaping and edibles, but not smoking) or outdoors (allowing smoking).

But applicants first would need backing from a single local neighborhood group, such as a city-registered neighborhood organization or business improvement district. That would allow the outside group to set operating conditions in exchange for support.

Denver’s count has gone slowly in large part because of a crush of last-minute ballots received during the final two days before polls closed.

Original Article via TheDenverPost