Terrapin-Backed Bill Would Allow Dispensary Tasting Rooms

If approved, the bill would allow visitors to vaporize cannabis flower and concentrates in a tasting room near the dispensary.
If approved, the bill would allow visitors to vaporize cannabis flower and concentrates in a tasting room near the dispensary. Jacqueline Collins
A bill now in the Colorado Legislature would allow dispensary licensees across the state to set up social consumption establishments. The proposal was introduced late Monday, February 26, after rumors had circulated for weeks.

Backed by dispensary chain Terrapin Care Station, HB 1258 has bipartisan sponsorship from Democratic representatives Jonathan Singer and Jovan Melton, Democratic Senator Stephen Fenberg and Republican Senator Tim Neville. It attempts to address Colorado's lingering social cannabis consumption issue by allowing medical and recreational dispensaries to add areas for pot use on their existing properties.

If passed, the bill would create the first statewide licensing program for cannabis consumption. The City of Denver is currently the only municipality in Colorado that licenses businesses for pot use, but the license requirements are geared more toward art and yoga studios, coffee shops and other traditional establishments. The provisions of HB 1258 would permit dispensary owners to add consumption areas to their existing licenses, which means that virtually all of these areas would be connected or very close to the pot shops themselves.

Customers could vaporize flower and concentrates, but no smoking would be allowed in the consumption areas in order to remain compliant with the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act. There would be limited sales permitted in the consumption areas of up to 3.5 grams of flower and 1 gram of concentrate; single-serving samples of infused products would also be allowed.

“We don’t need people using marijuana in our parks or on our sidewalks,” Singer says in a statement released with the proposal. “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.”

Like the Amendment 64 provision that allows municipalities to decide whether they want licensed pot businesses, the bill would give towns and counties the power to choose whether to allow consumption areas within their respective jurisdictions. The measure would also respect more specific local rules and location requirements, such as the City of Denver's Cannabis Consumption Establishment license program.

Although two businesses have officially applied for CCE licenses, neither have started allowing social consumption. Tetra 9 Private Lounge and Garden, which opened February 22 in the RiNo neighborhood, allows members to consume cannabis, but the club is members-only and unlicensed by the state or city.

“Regulatory uncertainty on the local level has resulted in confusion, prompting the need for a statewide, uniform policy,” Terrapin founder Chris Woods says. If approved, the measure would go into effect January 2019; it is currently under consideration by the House Finance Committee.
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Thomas Mitchell has written about all things cannabis for Westword since 2014, covering sports, real estate and general news along the way for publications such as the Arizona Republic, Inman and Fox Sports. He's currently the cannabis editor for
Contact: Thomas Mitchell