By Julia Granowicz –
When it comes to the legalization and regulation of cannabis for adult consumption, Colorado has been leading the way since voters approved Amendment 64 in 2012. Since then there has been a lot of debate about both the need for and the risk of allowing onsite consumption of cannabis. There are many reasons for this, but one of the top reasons is to allow somewhere for people to use the marijuana they purchased legally, which is especially important for tourists and those living in public housing or rented homes where its use may not be allowed.
This week, a bill that would fix this issue was introduced to the House and is being called Tasting Rooms legislation, formally known as House Bill 1258. If passed, the new law would allow licensed medical and recreational dispensaries to add an endorsement to their existing license which would allow limited onsite sales and consumption starting in January 2019.
“We don’t need people using marijuana in our parks or on our sidewalks,” Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont, a sponsor of the legislation, said in a statement. “This bill will help make sure people aren’t consuming more than they should and are doing it in an environment no different than what you would see at a winery or brewery.”
Arguably, it doesn’t make much sense to allow people to drink alcohol in bars and drive home, but not allow them to consume a much safer substance like cannabis in a social setting, and then drive home. In the 2016 elections, Denver voters approved a local initiative which created their own process for allowing onsite consumption of cannabis. Their first application, from a coffee shop which will allow vaping and edibles on the premises, was just approved earlier this month.
Luckily, if passed, House Bill 1258 would not conflict with I-300, but would merely work alongside it, allowing for additional places for cannabis users to consume in a social setting.
“This bill coincides with the goals of Colorado voters who approved Amendment 64,” added Sen. Tim Neville, R-Littleton, one of the bill’s sponsors in the Senate. “We are providing a safe, well-regulated environment for Colorado’s cannabis consumers.”
Under the House Bill, retailers with the endorsement would be allowed to open a separate location – so it may be attached to the dispensary, but must have it’s on entrance and exit.
There will be no “BYO” cannabis, but rather you would be able to purchase up to 3.5 grams of flower or 1 gram of concentrates for vaping, or a single-serve edible with the state’s standard 10 milligram per serving dose of active THC. Due to the Indoor Clean Air Act, there are no provisions to allow the smoking of cannabis – rather businesses (and consumers) will have to settle for vaping when in these establishments instead.
Last year, Colorado considered a bill that would have allowed for local government to regulate cannabis clubs – but it was eventually dropped after being opposed by Governor Hickenlooper. Hopefully, with other states who are much newer to the legal cannabis scene considering similar legislation, both lawmakers and Governor Hickenlooper will see the importance of passing House Bill 1258 – or something similar that will allow for the social consumption of cannabis.