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Colorado’s first-in-the-nation marijuana “tasting rooms” bill heads to Hickenlooper’s desk

Licensed marijuana “tasting rooms” could be operating in Colorado by this time next year if Gov. John Hickenlooper signs a first-of-its-kind bill that state lawmakers sent to his desk Thursday.

The bill allows adults at current recreational marijuana retailers to consume small amounts through edibles or by vaping — as they might a flight of fine whiskeys or craft beers.

House Bill 1258 would be another vanguard moment for a state that implemented first-in-the-nation adult-use cannabis sales back in 2014.

Industry observers say it also shows that Colorado is taking baby steps toward a statewide regime for social marijuana use.

“It’s a way to wrap our brains around what the regulatory structure would look like for public consumption,” said Peter Marcus, spokesman for Terrapin Care Station, a Colorado marijuana dispensary chain that supported the bill.

Colorado law prohibits marijuana consumption in public spaces; however, the state is home to several unlicensed cannabis clubs. Also, the city of Denver has started issuing licenses after a voter-approved initiative for marijuana social-use establishments.

Rep. Jovan Melton, D-Aurora, said Colorado would break ground with the legislative-approved social-consumption regulations.

The concept greatly differs from pot clubs, he said, in that it is limited to current recreational marijuana retailers and does not allow customers to share or bring their own pot into the consumption area.

“You really just get to sample what that dispensary or provider has, so it’s really more of a tasting room,” he said.

One problem the legislation hopes to address: the limited options for tourists and others to consume marijuana and how that often pushes it into public view in parks and sidewalks.

“This is a way so tourists aren’t consuming on the sidewalks, which was something that was never intended by Amendment 64 (of Colorado’s constitution),” he said.