Colorado Governor Thumbs Down Proposed Cannabis Cafes
Missing out on becoming the first to legalize cannabis cafes
Colorado has been a trail blazer in the cannabis industry and was among the first states to legalize recreational marijuana in the country. Despite this, Governor John Hickenlooper plans to put a halt to proposed cannabis cafés.
If Hickenlooper approved the proposed legislation, it would have made Colorado the first in the country to allow small amounts of marijuana in coffee shops and selected public establishments. Although recreational marijuana is legal in the state with dispensaries located everywhere in Denver, smoking it in public is strictly prohibited.
This new proposal would have lifted the veil of privacy and allowed customers in specially designated coffee shops to ingest marijuana. This plan was something that the governor didn’t want on his shoulders, so he vetoed the proposed bill and stopped the lobbyists dead in their tracks.
Lack of Data Worrying
Hickenlooper expressed his concerns in his veto message on the consequences of such a measure, especially without a thorough study on the dangers and side effects. He stated that the presence of marijuana cafés may cause an increase in highly impaired drivers on the road and pose a risk to pedestrians and other motorists as well.
There’s also the concern of employees health who work at the “consumption establishments” since they will be constantly exposed to second-hand smoke in a confined space.
However, supporters of the planned measure argued that people are allowed to consume alcohol in bars when alcohol also impairs their reflexes. How are marijuana cafés any different? The governor responded that, unlike alcohol, there are no approved measurements that currently exist that will decide the amount of marijuana in one’s system that can be the basis for criminal charges.
House Bill 1258, which was introduced in February of 2018, authorizes the “endorsement to an existing marijuana license to allow for a marijuana accessory consumption establishment.” This allows the public to smoke marijuana or eat edibles inside of a store without fear of receiving a fine.
Missed Chance at History
Colorado missed the opportunity to be the first state that allows the use of marijuana in public, due to the veto. During an interview with the Denver Post, the governor stated that he may have been overly guarded by not approving the proposed legislation. But it’s a big step, one that will drastically increase the consumption of marijuana in the state.
Hickenlooper remained consistent with his stance. The Democrat governor was never a supporter of legalizing marijuana. He eventually defended the legislation in support of cannabis after it became obvious that there was overwhelming support from the public to legalize marijuana. Nevertheless, cannabis club patrons sensed that the governor is only biding his time and now they are waiting for the other shoe to drop.
This past April, the governor gave an interview to CNN where he suggested that he’s not in opposition to criminalizing recreational marijuana use again. He said they’re looking closely at the data, particularly on marijuana-related incidents, if they find a pattern of violent crimes increasing due to cannabis use, he will not rule out the possibility of prohibiting marijuana use in Colorado once again.
While there has been an increase in the number of violent crimes in Denver (violent crime rose nine percent in 2016 compared to 2013), police authorities are not ready to attribute the rise of violent offenses on the use of marijuana. Currently, there’s no research that has been conducted that has set a benchmark for assessing marijuana-related crimes.
Hopefully in the future, there will be sufficient data on consumption thresholds so that reasonable laws will be put in place, to allow for proper legislation of marijuana use in public cafes and other related business establishments.