A bill that would allow cannabis dispensaries to apply for consumption-room licenses passed its first obstacle on Monday, March 19, when a Colorado General Assembly House committee’s approval moved it closer to the floor of the House — but not without some changes.
Sponsored by state representatives Jonathan Singer and Jovan Melton, HB 1258 would open the door for tasting rooms attached to recreational dispensaries that would allow consumption similar to what’s allowed at a brewery or winery. The model would have more purchasing and consumption limits than its liquor counterparts, however, and the tasting areas would only be allowed next to recreational stores, not medical dispensaries.
“One of the biggest problems we’ve seen since the decision to legalize marijuana is the issue of public consumption,” Singer said as he introduced the bill. “We don’t want to do a bait-and-switch on the tourists or Colorado citizens who choose to use this legal product.” Singer believes allowing consumption areas by dispensaries would decrease the number of people consuming pot in parks, on streets or in their hotels, a reason that the Colorado Hotel and Lodging Association supports the bill.
“It helps solves a problem that we’ve wrestled around with,” Melton explained to his House colleagues. “I think that this bill strikes a great balance in that it allows cities and counties to opt in. This allows us to finally build a framework and not have a patchwork.”
While the bill would allow any county or municipality to set up its own licensing system for the tasting rooms, it would also allow localities to completely prohibit them or set up their own rules. For example, the measure would recognize Denver’s Cannabis Consumption Establishment program that allows non-cannabis businesses to apply for private consumption spaces, as well as the plan previously agreed upon by