Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper on Monday vetoed the bill that would have allowed cannabis tasting rooms in the state. The proposed tasting rooms would have been the first of its kind in the country.
Hickenlooper’s veto letter
In his veto letter, the Democrat governor wrote that he believes the proposed legislation in directly in conflict with a constitutional amendment stating that cannabis consumption should not be conducted publicly or openly, or in a way that endangers others. Hickenlooper also cited health and safety concerns in his letter.
According to him, they are concerned that cannabis use at consumption establishments would result in additional intoxicated or impaired drivers on the road. He also wrote that allowing cannabis vaping in confined spaces would pose a significant health risk for the consumption establishments’ employees and other patrons.
About HB 1258
The Colorado Legislature passed the “tasting room” bill, which is officially called House Bill 1258, just last month. Legislature can no longer override the veto because the legislative session had ended on May 9.
The bill allows recreational cannabis retailers to set up onsite tasting rooms. And with these on-site tasting rooms, customers will be able to sample the retailer’s cannabis products in edible form or through vaping using an electronic vaping device.
Opposition to HB 1258
The bill was opposed by the American Cancer Society Action Network and by the American Lung Association. The groups had expressed concerns related to the Clean Indoor Air Act and had stated that tasting rooms would expose people to harmful second-hand marijuana smoke, as well as e-cigarette aerosol.
Currently, Colorado state law doesn’t allow the consumption of cannabis in public spaces. Colorado, however, is home to multiple unlicensed cannabis clubs.
Recreational cannabis retailers are not happy about the veto
Cannabis enthusiasts and business owners are not happy about Hickenlooper’s veto. Recreational cannabis retail shop owner Chris Woods, for one, said that the bill would have allowed them to offer certainty on the issue of public weed consumption so regulators would have more clarity with regard to enforcement.
In his statement, Woods said that the Colorado Legislature had sought to bridge the gap in regulation. He said it was “unfortunate that Hickenlooper chose not to offer any regulatory tool” to both state and local regulators.
The fight is not over, Woods added.
As for the legislation allowing public traded companies to invest in Colorado’s cannabis market or to holt cannabis license in the state, Press Secretary Jacque Montgomery said that Hickenlooper is still considering whether to sign it or not.