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Colorado Poised To Be The First State To Have Licensed Marijuana Tasting Rooms

By Roger Malespin photo/ 

A first-of-its-kind bill is set to come across the desk of Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper soon, and if he signs it will make Colorado the first state in the nation to have state licensed marijuana tasting rooms. House Bill 1258 is described by the Colorado legislature as “Concerning authorization for an endorsement to an existing marijuana license to allow for a marijuana accessory consumption establishment for the purposes of consumer education, and, in connection therewith, making an appropriation.”
The bill authorizes each licensed medical marijuana center or retail marijuana store to establish one retail marijuana accessory consumption establishment that may sell marijuana, marijuana concentrate, and marijuana-infused products for consumption, other than smoking, at the establishment. 
Though there are several unlicensed cannabis clubs in Colorado, the concept posed in the bill differs from what a pot club is. Firstly, it is limited to current recreational marijuana retailers and does not allow customers to share or bring their own pot into the consumption area. Also, the bill prohibit food, smoking, alcohol, employee consumption, and free samples. Lastly, in order for an establishment to obtain a tasting room license, they would need to get approval from the local municipality. 

The current bill is a compromise in the next step of social cannabis consumption in the state, which has faced several challenges. Last year, Senate Bill 184 was vetoed by the Governor because he did not want to reverse any part of the statewide indoor smoking ban. Also, Just last month Senate Bill 211 “posed significant enforcement challenges and health and safety risks,” according Jim Burack, director of Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division, and was defeated by a vote of 6-1 in the Senate Committee on Business, Labor, and Technology. 

The Governor is also understandably cautious about expanding the states marijuana presence further because of the uncertainty of the federal government changing cannabis from a schedule 1 drug with the current administration. While the current federal stance is still hands off, provoking action by passing bills that blantanty fly in the face of federal regulations would be unwise. 

That being said, the Governor is expected to sign and this is a win for the industry. While customers won’t be able to smoke inside, they could consume marijuana concentrate via edibles or oil-filled vapor inhalation devices. 

This development might seem limited because it does not allow smoking, but it should be thought of as a positive step in a landscape that is still in its early stages and facing constant opposition. Small victories such as this, while conservative, go a long way for the industry in the long run because they further prove that recreational marijuana is a safe personal practice that is not detrimental to quality of life or laws, and also give further credibility to the businesses as productive members of the community.  If signed, House Bill 1258 would go into effect in early 2019.