Colorado Symphony to move forward with marijuana-themed concerts

The Bartels BrassThe Colorado Symphony (CSO) will move forward with a series of marijuana-themed concerts billed as BYOC, or bring your own cannabis.

The Symphony released a statement Tuesday evening saying that after talking with the City of Denver and its legal advisors, the “Classically Cannabis: The High Note Series” will happen as private fundraisers. The first concert is set for May 23.

The “Classically Cannabis” series is a partnership between the Colorado Symphony and the marijuana industry.

The series was originally open to the public. Denver city officials late last week sent a letter to the Symphony warning that the series as advertised could violate city and state law.

Three events will now be private fundraisers, including the May 23 concert at the Space Gallery in the Santa Fe Art District and two other events on July 18 and Aug. 15. The series will end with a public concert at Red Rocks on Sept. 13, where marijuana consumption is banned.

The Symphony has refunded 123 tickets at $75 each to patrons who had purchased seats before the events were made private. This represents $9225 in lost ticket sales. However, the Symphony’s CEO Jerry Kern said in a phone interview on Wednesday that he expects each of the three private fundraising events to raise $30,000 net.

With the addition of the public concert at Red Rocks in September, Kern says that the Symphony hopes to raise nearly $200,000 from the entire series.

Colorado's Amendment 64 legalizes the personal use of marijuana for adults over 21 but doesn't allow public consumption.

In Tuesday’s statement, Kern says the goal from the beginning has been to support fundraising for the Symphony and to reach a culturally diverse audience.

“We’re pleased to present these events in a way that will allow us to pursue these goals and move forward with the business of operating the Colorado Symphony,” Kern says.

“We are pleased the CSO revisited their planned events and worked to come into compliance with state and city laws,” Denver City Attorney Scott Martinez said in a written statement on Wednesday. "Similar to other organizations that have promoted public consumption, the city provided the CSO clarity on what the law is and the organizers took it upon themselves to make amendments to their planned events. Based on the changes made, we do not see reason to take any further action at this time."

The CSO consulted with Martinez about how to make it clear this series is a private affair. Here’s what they agreed to according to the Symphony’s statement:

The Colorado Symphony has removed public information about Classically Cannabis from its website and agreed to refund all ticket purchases through May 12, 2014.

Classically Cannabis will now be available by invitation only. Events will be limited to a closed list of VIP guests managed by Edible Events Co. No reservations or requests for invitations to the events will be accepted from the general public.

In consultation with Mr. Martinez, the Colorado Symphony has also determined that it no longer needs the two special events permits it had previously applied for from the City of Denver because of the events’ private nature. Therefore, the Colorado Symphony is in the process of withdrawing the permit applications.