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Colorado Governor Nixes ‘Cannabis Tasting Rooms’

Cannabis cafes won’t be coming to Colorado any time soon, thanks to a veto from Gov. John Hickenlooper. But the fight is far from over.

Hickenlooper on Monday nixed a law that would have allowed licensed cannabis “tasting rooms” in Colorado, saying that he remained concerned about health and child safety and concerns. House Bill 1258 would have allowed adults to consume small amounts of cannabis through edibles or by vaping at regulated retail facilities. Colorado cannabis consumers and businesses hoped the state would be the first in the nation to create a system providing consumers with a public place to use marijuana.

Despite the setback, the state’s cannabis industry vows to keep trying. “In its wisdom, the Colorado Legislature sought to close a significant gap in regulation,” Chris Woods, the owner of Terrapin Care Station, told the Associated Press. “It’s unfortunate that the governor chose not to offer another regulatory tool to state and local regulators. This fight is not over.”

This is not the first time Hickenlooper has rejected plans to allow for public consumption. His biggest fear is that the federal government would crack down on the state’s legal marijuana laws if the law is enacted. He also cited intoxicated driving as a reason.

“We are concerned that marijuana use at consumption establishments could result in additional impaired or intoxicated drivers on our roadways,” Hickenlooper wrote in a letter announcing the veto. “This bill also poses public health risks. Allowing vaporization of marijuana in confined spaces poses a significant health risk for employees and patrons of consumption establishments.”

Another concern for Hickenlooper is child safety. “We may agree with the proponents’ goals to protect the public and children; however, we strongly disagree that this bill is the correct path to achieve those goals,” he wrote in the letter.

So far, no state that has legalized adult use of recreational cannabis have sanctioned policies regarding public consumption. Even in Denver, Colorado’s largest city, is struggling with the issue — and voters in the Mile High City passed a voter-backed initiative last year forcing the city to allow “social consumption facilities.” But only one permit has been issued.

San Francisco also has issued only one permit for a marijuana lounge. Las Vegas has tabled the discussion, hoping to see how the experiment works in other jurisdictions.

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