Audio: Denver’s Crackdown On Marijuana Party Buses Exposes Long-Simmering Debate

Bill Morin of Florida smokes cannabis on a My 420 Tours bus, May 4, 2018.

Xandra McMahon/CPR News

For years, one of the main ways visitors could legally smoke a joint in Denver was to hop on a bus from companies like My 420 Tours and Colorado Cannabis Tours.

They’d have to book in advance, bring their own weed, and sign paperwork making them part of a private club. But such requirements were minor roadblocks considering public consumption is illegal, and most hotels don’t allow smoking.

“It’s been complete smooth sailing,” said Michael Eymer, CEO and founder of Colorado Cannabis Tours. His buses have carried thousands of tourists across Denver as they lit up.

“I’ve done hundreds of media appearances. We’ve had the consumption on these buses filmed on CNN and broadcast to 5 million people,” he said.

But the smooth sailing ended last Friday, when undercover Denver police officers cited 31 tourists and employees on two buses for public consumption. A driver was arrested under suspicion of operating under the influence of drugs. One bus was operated by Eymer’s business, while the other was a My 420 Tours bus.

Why the roadblock? A city spokesman says law enforcement was responding to complaints about public consumption. But when asked for copies of those complaints, the city declined, citing the need to “protect the integrity of the current prosecutions.”

In the city’s view, such buses are a public space because anyone can sign up for a tour. But industry insiders say the crackdown is about something else. They say the city is frustrated that it has issued only a handful of licenses that allow social consumption, which some established marijuana businesses deride as being

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