Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Hickenlooper vetoes marijuana "tasting rooms" consumption bill

Posted By on Tue, Jun 5, 2018 at 11:17 AM

click to enlarge Gov. John Hickenlooper - STATE OF COLORADO
  • State of Colorado
  • Gov. John Hickenlooper
A bipartisan bill that would have allowed marijuana businesses to have "accessory consumption establishments," or tasting rooms, won't become law.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper chose to veto House Bill 1258 for public safety and health reasons, he announced in a statement June 4.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont, would have authorized both medical marijuana centers and retail stores to have one tasting room where customers could sample edible or vaping products.

Currently, there are no legal places in Colorado to consume marijuana outside of a private home, making it difficult for renters, out-of-state tourists, and parents with young children to enjoy dispensary purchases. It's possible that contributed to a 471 percent increase in citations for public cannabis consumption in the first three quarters of 2014, as Colorado Public Radio reported. Westword also reported that between the time of legalization in 2014 and 2017, Boulder saw a 54 percent climb.

The bill would have limited purchases in tasting rooms to 10 milligrams active THC in an infused product or one-quarter gram of marijuana concentrate. In compliance with the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act, customers would not have been allowed to smoke. Products would have had to be consumed on business premises.

The bill passed the Senate in late April with a 22-12 vote, and the House in early May with a 57-8 vote.

Despite the large margin of approval, Hickenlooper was "concerned that marijuana use at consumption establishments could result in additional impaired or intoxicated drivers on our roadways," he said in the statement. "HB 18-1258 sends the wrong message by permitting people to consume marijuana in a public setting; a practice that may increase the number of impaired drivers on our roadways."

He added that vaping in a confined space "poses a significant health risk for employees and patrons of consumption establishments," and said he feared "an unintended effect ... is the further normalization of marijuana use in the eyes of youth."

Terrapin Care Station, a retail marijuana business with locations across the Front Range, blasted the governor's veto in a statement June 4.

"Hickenlooper’s veto ensures continued gray market activity when it comes to public consumption, an odd choice for an administration that has focused heavily on marijuana gray market enforcement," the statement read. "It also ensures that people will continue to smoke cannabis in unregulated indoor clubs, also a strange choice for a governor who has been adamant that public consumption should not include smoking. Hickenlooper’s veto also sets the state back in regulating and curbing drugged driving."

The bill's co-sponsors included Rep. Jovan Melton, D-Aurora; Sen. Tim Neville, R-Littleton; and Sen. Stephen Fenberg, D-Boulder.

In a statement, Neville said, “This bill was a well-crafted and balanced solution to a problem. It passed with strong bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. By saying ‘no,’ the governor missed an important opportunity to provide solutions instead of kicking the can down the road.”

This story has been edited. The original story incorrectly attributed a quote from Rep. Tim Neville.

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