New law allows marijuana hospitality, delivery businesses, but Summit County and town governments must opt-in
Editor’s note: The main image on this story featured hemp mistakenly identified as marijuana and has been removed.
FRISCO — Debate still rages about whether 2020 is the start of a new decade. What’s much less controversial is that we do, indeed, live in a new age in Colorado, as new laws allowing for the establishment of marijuana “hospitality” spaces and commercial marijuana delivery went into effect Jan. 1.
House Bill 19-1230 allows the establishment of marijuana “lounge” spaces within existing food establishments where patrons can consume but not buy marijuana, “tasting” rooms with marijuana purchased at an attached dispensary and consumed on-site, or even “party buses” that allow for revelers to consume while being driven around town. One big caveat in the law is that an establishment cannot hold a liquor license and marijuana hospitality license at the same time.
H.B. 19-1234 allows door-to-door commercial delivery of marijuana from dispensaries to private homes while prohibiting more than one delivery per address per day as well as delivery to college campuses.
These businesses could provide a convenience boon in resort communities like Summit County. Currently, visitors are able to purchase marijuana but have few legal places to consume it. Oftentimes, retail lodging and short-term rentals prohibit marijuana consumption.
While these new businesses are now legal under state law, there is a big catch: Local municipalities must opt-in by passing ordinances or resolutions that allow for these businesses to be established within their jurisdictions. For Summit County and the towns within it, it seems like a long shot for the businesses to be legalized anytime soon, if at all.
Summit County government — which has jurisdiction over unincorporated county land including Keystone and Copper Mountain — has not brought the issue up for consideration. That’s according to Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier, who added that based on how the ski resorts were opposed to dispensaries within their planned unit developments back when marijuana was legalized in 2012, they will probably oppose these new marijuana businesses in or around their resorts — making it less likely for the county to opt-in.
The town of Breckenridge brought the issue up during a late November work session, where it appeared that none of the town counselors were eager to legalize these new marijuana businesses. Officials cited safety and nuisance concerns. The consensus was that the council needed more information before approving such businesses.
When it comes to the marijuana consumption spaces, Breckenridge town council member Jeffrey Bergeron said the council appeared to agree that even if these spaces were allowed, they would be permitted only as attachments to existing dispensaries.
Bergeron said safety remained the primary concern. He said that according to information provided during the work session, it only takes two “hits” of marijuana for a person to be over the limit and “under the influence.” That, he said, gave him pause about considering allowing these spaces to exist in Breckenridge or marijuana delivery services that could run afoul of existing regulations at condo developments and short-term rental units.
“It has the potential to create a nuisance, where people can drive to a place like this and smoke a minuscule amount and then try to get back on the road,” Bergeron said. “Anyone going to a place like that would probably have more than two hits. There’s a lot of things that have to be worked out before I would feel comfortable OK’ing something like that.”
When asked whether new businesses could fill the void of spaces for visitors to legally and safely consume marijuana, Bergeron acknowledged it was a valid question, one he did not have an answer to, but that safety would remain the overriding concern. He said the council would continue looking into the issue as it gets more information.
Silverthorne Mayor Ann-Marie Sandquist said the Silverthorne Town Council also had opened up discussion on marijuana hospitality and delivery businesses during a meeting in early December.
“The laws have just come into effect,” Sandquist said, “so we asked the town attorney and police chief to look into the matter and get back to us with their thoughts on where we should go with this.”
Sandquist said demand or need for such businesses might affect whether they are allowed.
“We will look at it again and consider if it’s something that we want to do,” Sandquist said. “Is it really an issue for us? Is there a lot of public consumption? That’s what we’re getting staff to get us answers on.”
Frisco Mayor Gary Wilkinson said the town of Frisco had not yet brought the issue up in its chambers. A response from the town of Dillon government was not received as of publication.
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