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Colorado Lawmakers Clear Path for Cannabis Cafes, Pot Delivery

Is that bud for here or to go?

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New laws in Colorado will allow state residents to order pot delivered to their house and give businesses the chance to apply for a license to run a “cannabis cafe” where people can legally use marijuana.

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Both laws have the potential to substantially change the marijuana industry in Colorado, the first state to legalize recreational marijuana in 2012. However, there is a catch to the bills signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis.

Local jurisdictions will have to opt into the new law allowing cannabis cafes. And local cities and counties could also ban delivery of cannabis within their borders. Neither law is going into effect until 2020.

Related: Are There Any Downsides to Marijuana Legalization? Not so Far.

Details on delivery.

The marijuana delivery law signed by the governor allows for medical marijuana deliveries to start in 2020 and recreational deliveries to start in 2021. State lawmakers have tried for several years to pass a law allowing for delivery services but were unable to reach an agreement before now. Law enforcement officials and anti-marijuana groups typically oppose such measures, but there also was a split among Colorado dispensary owners, according to Westword.

Some dispensary owners unable to afford their own drivers wanted third-party drivers included in the legislation immediately. Others didn’t want third-party delivery services allowed at all for fear they will lose a sizeable chunk of business to an Amazon-style takeover. Lawmakers compromised by allowing third-party drivers in the second year of the new law, as well as online ordering. Not everyone is happy.

Tim Morgen, community relations manager for dispensary chain Bgood, told Westword that dispensaries have made an investment in the community by setting up brick-and-mortar stores. He said the new law could make some dispensaries no more than “fulfillment centers.”

“Your location doesn't matter anymore by allowing delivery. If you're taking orders through them, then they're the store,” he said. “They have all the information about you, and they have the relationship with you."

Related: Federal Appeals Court Orders DEA to Reconsider if Marijuana Belongs on Schedule 1

Opting Out

Importantly, the new law allows local justifications to opt out of allowing delivery service. However, many will argue for delivery, especially to allow medical marijuana patients better access to cannabis.

The situation seems similar to the one faced by California, where delivery has been allowed since 2018. However, there have been issues with certain jurisdictions not allowing for delivery businesses, meaning delivery companies had to keep up with an elaborate set of local laws on delivery. This year, California allowed delivery to everyone in the state, even if they live in a jurisdiction without a law allowing delivery.

A state board in Colorado is expected to address some of these issues before the delivery law goes into effect.

Cannabis Cafes

Colorado has now followed Alaska in allowing creation of places where people can legally use cannabis. However, local jurisdictions will have to opt into the new law allowing cannabis cafes.

This has been an issue since cannabis became legal. Laws restrict people to using cannabis only in the privacy of their home. The new law would allow state regulators to issue special licenses that give businesses the right to create lounges where people can consume cannabis. This would not begin until 2020.

In addition to having to opt in to allow cannabis consumption, the new law also allows local jurisdictions to modify the law, allowing only certain kinds of marijuana use (for example, they could ban smoking cannabis).

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