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New Legislation Calls For Allowing Some 'Open & Public' Pot Consumption

By Shaun Boyd

DENVER (CBS4) - Pot shops could become pot pubs under legislation being drafted at the state Capitol.

It's one of the bills this session that could expand where people are allowed to use marijuana. The constitution prohibits "open and public" pot consumption. But what that means is a matter of debate.

"That's actually an issue the Legislature has not defined," said Rep. Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City.

Rep. Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City
CBS4's Shaun Boyd interviews Rep. Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City (credit: CBS)

He's sponsoring a bill that would establish a special event permit for marijuana expos, for example, like the Cannabis Cup in Commerce City.

"This is already happening so why wouldn't we want to place conditions on these events? Why wouldn't we want to place restrictions on these events to make sure people are consuming and buying marijuana responsibly?" Moreno said.

Cannabis Cup
(credit: CBS)

He says the permits would be issued by local governments.

"In the absence of any definition of what public consumption is, local governments have been allowed to define that for themselves. We'd leave that the same," Moreno said.

RELATED STORIES: Marijuana Legalization Story Archive

Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont, also plans to introduce legislation defining "open and public" consumption. His bill would allow for so-called pot pubs. Consumers could go out for a dab after work like they do a drink.

Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont
CBS4's Shaun Boyd interviews Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont (credit: CBS)

"The idea here is creating something similar to bars where people can responsibly consume (pot)," Singer said.

He says the bill is especially aimed at tourists.

"We tell people to come to Colorado, buy your marijuana, but don't smoke it in the streets, don't smoke it in the restaurants or bars, and don't smoke it in your hotel room," Singer said. But by the way, finish it before you leave the state because you can't take it out of the state either."

Singer's bill would allow licensed retail pot shops to apply for a separate license that allows for on-site consumption of cannabis. He says it would still be out of public view in a private establishment.

"Just like we require bartenders to get training on when someone has had too much to drink, we can do the same thing for budtenders that we do for bartenders," Singer said.

But Jim Gerhardt with the Colorado Drug Investigators Association says both bills are unconstitutional.

Jim Gerhardt with the Colorado Drug Investigators Association
Jim Gerhardt with the Colorado Drug Investigators Association is interviewed by CBS4's Shaun Boyd (credit: CBS)

"The marijuana advocates wrote Amendment 64. They wrote the language prohibiting public consumption, so now this is like politicians' and lawyers' legal trickery," Gerhardt said.

He says the bills will also impact public safety.

"We have thousands of homes being used to grow marijuana. We have more marijuana retail outlets than Starbucks and McDonalds. We have the highest youth and adult use rates anywhere in the country," Gerhardt said. "Why do we need to continue down the path of more access, more places to use? I think enough is enough and the constitution has already outlined that."

Singer says while the bills will likely be amended, they have "a fairly high chance of passing."

Shaun Boyd is CBS4's political specialist. She's a veteran reporter with more than 25 years of experience. Follow her on Twitter @cbs4shaun.

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