Last week, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed into law a measure allowing businesses to apply for cannabis “social use” space licenses. This opens way for Amsterdam-style smoking lounges or coffee shops.
House Bill 19-1230 permits cannabis consumption in licensed marijuana hospitality areas.
Before signing the bill, Polis noted that Colorado has many residents and tourists who choose to take part in the legal use of cannabis, but until the bill, there has been no way for safely consuming marijuana in public.
As reported by Westword, dispensaries in Colorado will now have a chance to apply for tasting-room licenses which are similar to those for breweries. Other businesses will be in a position to make applications for private cannabis consumption licenses as well as limited on-site sales. Temporary special events licenses will also be available, and mobile marijuana lounges like limousines and tour buses will also be licensed but not be allowed to sell cannabis.
At least one Denver boutique hotel, the Patterson Inn, has interests in the idea of applying for a cannabis license. Chris Chiari, the owner, currently allows guests to vape cannabis in their rooms and smoke marijuana on their private patios outdoors. Chiari has a room in mind meant for cannabis use and is ready to get the license.
Another Westworld article shows that beyond hotels and dispensaries, many other businesses in Denver may apply for cannabis licenses. These include coffee shops, restaurants, art galleries, music venues, game arcades, and book stores.
One hindrance is that the liquor licenses and cannabis hospitality licenses will be mutually exclusive for any one establishment. This means that for a restaurant to get a marijuana license, it should be willing to part with its liquor license. However, this might not significantly slow things down. There is also an option for getting a license for social pot use for a neighboring property.
Cannabis advocates have tried to get a “social use” measure approved each year since 2013 when cannabis was legalized. The social use bill was presented one year ago and rejected by John Hickenlooper, the then governor. Meanwhile, Alaska beat Colorado by being the first state to license cannabis use in retail outlets earlier this year.
Reduced Penalties for Illicit Quantities
The same day, Governor Polis signed two more related measures. One of these reduces penalties for marijuana possession in quantities that exceed legalized amounts by Amendment 64.
House Bill 19-1263 impacts several controlled substances such as cannabis, ketamine, cathinone, and flunitrazepam. The penalty for a one-time personal possession of herbaceous marijuana exceeding 6 ounces or over 3 ounces of concentrate has been dropped to a level 1 misdemeanor from a level 4 felony. The offense is now punishable by at most 2 years of probation or a maximum fine of $1,000. In many cases, there will be no jail term unless the offender violates the probation terms. These new penalty prescriptions will take effect from March 1, 2020.
House Bill 1234 has regulations on cannabis products delivery from state-licensed retailers, as opposed to on-site purchases. The law limits deliveries to one per household in a day, and only in municipalities where such activities are allowed. Campus and college deliveries are prohibited. Medical marijuana deliveries will start on January 2, 2020, while general adult-use market deliveries will commence on January 2, 2021.