There is a catch 22 when it comes to recreational cannabis in Colorado.
Sure, people can buy it, legally in stores. Sure, adults over 21 are allowed to have it on their person. But, once a person buys weed and leaves the dispensary, there’s almost nowhere they’re allowed to legally consume it. They’re required by law to use in the shadows, to hide their shameful act of smoking pot from the public eye. The use of marijuana products in public is explicitly forbidden by The State.
Or, it has been, until now.
On Thursday May 29th, Governor Jared Polis signed bill HB 1230 into law, a bill that will allow for “regulated spaces for responsible social consumption.” Meaning, that Colorado will see a surge of cannabis clubs, smoking lounges, medicinal use clinics, coffee-pot shops, marijuana restaurants and tasting rooms opening up like wildflowers across the state. And it will be happening as early as 2020.
“January 1 the state licenses will be available,” says Cindy Sovine, a social consumption consultant for the Social Use Avengers.
Sovine has been involved with HB 1230 from the very start. Sovine’s father was a cancer patient, who could have benefitted immensely from a medical consumption clinic, like the one Sovine hopes to start once HB 1230 goes into effect: Utopia Natural Healing Lounge, which, would be be the nation’s very first cannabis spa.
“This is the most comprehensive bill in the country,” She says. “This bill is what I’m hoping other states will model themselves after.”
Not only can businesses apply for limited consumption licenses under HB 1230, but there are also opportunities to apply for temporary or mobile licenses. That opens the door for all kinds of 420 tours, and pop-up tasting rooms at special events. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Dispensaries will be able to have tasting rooms for people to try products before they buy. Creative restauranteurs will have the opportunity to experiment with cannabis pairings or infused cuisine. Growers will be able to open tasting rooms at their grows, so people can go straight to the source, taste the bud where it’s grown (kind of like beer at craft breweries). Movie theaters and other entertainment venues could also allow cannabis consumption during their shows. And yoga studios will be able to run cannabis yoga classes/seminars.
“People who are interested in running these [consumption] businesses need to go to their local government and ask to make the allowances for them to have these licenses,” Sovine says. Which, interested parties can do before January 1st of 2020, so when the new year rolls around, they’re locked, loaded and ready to open for cannabusiness.
“Right now, we hear all about how we don’t want children seeing marijuana consumption everywhere, and that the smell is obnoxious,” Sovine says. “This is the public service solution and it also drives an economy out of hospitality.”
This is a huge step for cannabis culture, not just in Colorado, but in the US at large. When people see that the sky isn’t falling just because people can smoke pot in licensed pot-smoking areas, the trend will spread to other legal states like California, Oregon and Nevada.
HB 1230 will undoubtedly make life as a cannabis user in Colorado a lot easier, it will bring a lot of money into existing and new local businesses, create jobs and it will do a hell of lot to dissolve the stigma attached to cannabis and cannabis consumers.
“I think that’s a game changer for our planet, to be completely honest with you,” Sovine says. “Once we’re not afraid of being jailed for smoking marijuana in public, creativity, healing, all kinds of really good things are going to start to happen.”
No more will the stoners of this state have to hide in the shadows. No more will they have to shamefully shield the world from their sinful act of toking. Soon, they’ll have their own special places to go socially enjoy their vice.
Which has been sorely needed in Colorado for a long time.