Longmont Rep’s Bill Would Create ‘marijuana Hospitality Establishments’
A bill introduced last week at the Colorado Statehouse is seeking to license “marijuana hospitality establishments” — locations where people could gather to consume marijuana and marijuana products on-site.
House Bill 19-1230 — sponsored by Longmont Democratic Rep. Jonathan Singer and introduced Friday — seeks to create two categories of venues for such gatherings, according to Cindy Sovine, founder of Social Use Avengers, a coalition that has been fighting to legalize social cannabis consumption.
One type of venue would be “legal cannabis hospitality establishments,” Sovine said Monday. The locally permitted locations would allow consumption of marijuana and marijuana products, but neither the establishment’s operator nor patrons could buy or sell marijuana, marijuana concentrate or marijuana infused products within the “hospitality space.”
Theoretically hotels, coffee shops, book stores, spas and other locations could obtain licenses to locate cannabis consumption spaces on their premises.
The second category would be “retail cannabis hospitality and sales establishments,” locations where patrons could buy limited amounts of marijuana or marijuana products from licensed cannabis producers, Noble said.
Singer said that second category of hospitality establishments would provide the opportunity for cannabis consumers to sample marijuana at locations where it is sold — similar to how visitors can sample alcoholic beverages produced at wineries, breweries or distilleries.
Currently people often break the law against marijuana consumption in certain public places, prompting them to illegally smoke, eat or drink marijuana products in locations such as parks or on sidewalks since retail shops cannot now allow marijuana to be sampled or consumed in separate rooms on their premises, he said.
The hospitality establishments bill “will help make sure people are consuming responsibly, similar to what you would see at a winery, brewery or distillery,” Singer said.
“Local law enforcement won’t have to worry about residents and tourists smoking in parks, because they’ll now have a place to go,” he said.
Fort Collins Republican Sen. Vicki Marble, who will carry HB 1230 in the Senate if it is approved in the House, said, “Coloradans voted for the freedom to choose cannabis as an alternative” when in 2012 they approved a state constitutional amendment decriminalizing adult possession of marijuana and legalizing retail sales.
“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 the street,” Marble said in a statement.
Singer said it would be up to local governments whether to “opt in” and allow cannabis hospitality consumption locations in their jurisdictions, just as cities, towns and counties can now permit, prohibit or limit the presence of medical marijuana dispensaries and retail marijuana operations.
HB 1230, which Singer said he thinks “is going to have a lot of bipartisan support,” has been assigned to the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee for a yet-to-be-scheduled hearing.
The bill’s supporters, according to a news release, include Sovine’s Social Use Avengers, the Colorado chapter of National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Denver-based Colorado Cannabis Tours and Terrapin Care Station, a Boulder-based provider of medical and recreational marijuana whose retail stores include shops in Boulder and Longmont.
Terrapin Care Station owner and chief executive Chris Woods in a statement said the bill is “a step towards providing a licensed and supervised environment for residents and tourists seeking a safe, responsible place to consume marijuana.”
The bill’s backers in their news release said the measure “seeks to clarify policy for cannabis hospitality tours, which take consumers on mobile consumption education shuttles,” and that the bill would set consumer purchase limits in line with standards already in Colorado law.
People visiting cannabis consumption centers would have to be at least 21 years old, and employees of centers would have to be trained “to spot for intoxication and to educate consumers on safe and responsible consumption practices,” the bill’s supporters said
John Fryar: 303-684-5211, firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/jfryartc