The seventh year of recreational marijuana sales in Colorado promises to be an interesting one, with new laws allowing social consumption establishments and weed delivery, as well as new industry rules mandating more product testing while restricting vaping ingredients.
Here are the six biggest rule changes that will take effect on Colorado's marijuana landscape in 2020:
Last May, the Colorado Legislature passed a law allowing restaurants, hotels, music venues and other businesses to apply for social pot-use permits and dispensaries to apply for tasting-room licenses similar to that of a brewery — if their respective town or county decides to allow them, as local governments must still opt in to the program. If your local jurisdiction does decide to allow social consumption licenses, non-dispensary businesses could also apply for limited pot sales, while mobile marijuana lounges such as tour buses and limousines will also be licensed but cannot sell marijuana; temporary licenses for special events will be available, too. None of these entities could have an active liquor license and allow social pot use, however.
Denver's much-aligned local social-use program remained unaffected by the new law, and it's unlikely to be revisited until months into 2020.
The legislature also legalized commercial cannabis delivery in 2019, but it will only affect a handful of towns and counties that choose to participate in a one-year pilot program for medical marijuana deliveries only. If there’s no dumpster fire during year one, then both medical and recreational delivery should become an option for municipalities across the state a year later, in 2021. But local governments can still ban cannabis delivery if they choose, and they must officially opt in before commercial delivery services can begin.
Heavy Metals Testing
This rule was created by the state Marijuana Enforcement Division in 2018 with plenty of notice. Expected to be implemented in July 2019, testing marijuana for heavy metals wasn't actually required until January 1, 2020, when the MED deemed that enough state-certified marijuana testing labs had the capabilities to test for heavy metals such as cadmium, arsenic and nickel, which are used in certain growing nutrients and can be harmful if combusted and inhaled.
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Hemp Can Be Sold at Dispensaries
Another MED rule long in the making, this change will allow marijuana dispensaries to sell consumable CBD and fiber products made from industrial hemp. Previously, any CBD product sold in a dispensary had to come from marijuana, while hemp-based rolling papers were imported from overseas. Now, industrial hemp products may be sold in dispensaries as long as they pass the same potency and contaminant testing undergone by marijuana products. Beginning on July 1, 2020, dispensaries may also sell consumable marijuana products containing industrial hemp and CBD, such as a THC/CBD edible with CBD from hemp instead of marijuana.
New MMJ Rules
Emboldened by the election of Governor Jared Polis, medical marijuana advocates pushed the 2019 legislature to add autism spectrum disorder and any condition for which opioids are prescribed to the state's list of medical marijuana conditions, and to also pass a law permitting more health-care professionals — dentists, psychiatrists, registered nurse practitioners and so on — to be able to recommend medical marijuana, and to recommend it for terms shorter than the previous one-year minimum. These rules went into effect in the fall of 2019 but will have much more of an impact in 2020 as local health-care professionals get up to date.
Vape Additives Banned
Well over 2,000 recorded cases of pulmonary illnesses related to vaping were reported in 2019, and at least four dozen of those ended in death. The reports prompted the MED to ban any marijuana vaping products with vitamin E acetate — a chemical linked to vaping illness by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — along with polyethylene glycol (PEG) and medium chain triglycerides (MCT oil), two other chemical vaping additives. The new additive rules were implemented January 1, but with at least one marijuana testing lab claiming that vitamin E acetate is a naturally occurring substance in plant products, the rule is likely to face challenges.