Colorado might have been the first state to legalize recreational cannabis, but since that groundbreaking move in late 2012, it's been slow to solve one of the biggest challenges involved with recreational cannabis: allowing people to actually consume it outside of their homes.
You know, the way they can consume liquor. Remember how Amendment 64 was supposed to regulate marijuana like alcohol?
Now House Bill 19-1230 is offering a possible solution. Introduced in the Colorado Legislature on March 8, it would create a regulated system for cannabis consumption in social settings. Starting in January 2020, it would allow licensed cannabis hospitality establishments, where there would be limited on-site sales and consumption; it would also clear up the rules for cannabis tours.
“This bill will help make sure people are consuming responsibly, similar to what you would see at a winery, brewery or distillery,” says Representative Jonathan Singer, a Longmont Democrat who's been leading the way on several marijuana-related bills. “Local law enforcement won’t have to worry about residents and tourists smoking in parks, because they’ll now have a place to go.”
“Coloradans voted for the freedom to choose cannabis as an alternative,” adds Senator Vicki Marble, a Republican from Fort Collins who's also sponsoring the bill. “But we have not extended similar liberties to the consumption aspect of cannabis legalization. With this legislation, we are upholding the will of voters while providing a safe and responsible place for people to consume outside of parks and off of the street.”
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HB 1230 is part of a bipartisan effort to solve some of the stickier issues related to recreational marijuana, and a followup to last year’s “tasting rooms” measure that was vetoed by then-Governor John Hickenlooper. The bill's sponsors are optimistic that Governor Jared Polis will be more open to their measure.
“Cannabis patients and retail consumers alike deserve to have a place to go to find each other, create community and consume marijuana safely,” says Cindy Sovine, a lobbyist who's become tangled in Denver's social consumption rules in her efforts to open Utopia Natural Healing Lounge, which could become the nation’s first cannabis spa.
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“This legislation is about harm reduction and monitoring intoxication," Sovine continues. "It is about honoring the reality that if we benefit economically from the sale of cannabis products, we should also be respecting where and how it is consumed.”
HB 1230 also seeks to clarify policy for cannabis hospitality tours, which take consumers on mobile consumption education shuttles. Owners of those companies have also become entangled in red tape.
"It is hard to over-emphasize the importance this milestone brings to the entire cannabis community," Michael Eymer, founder of Colorado Cannabis Tours, says in a statement announcing the proposal. "For the first time in a social setting, consumers will have the ability to make the safer choice when it comes to legal recreational products. Not only will this bill clarify the legality of economically important cannabis tourism operations in the state, but as a result, Colorado will continue to pave the way for the rest of the world to look toward and build upon."
Read the text of HB 1230 here.