cannabis tasting rooms, Colorado lawmakers approve bill for cannabis tasting rooms

(This story has been updated from an earlier version.) 

Colorado lawmakers on Thursday approved pioneering legislation allowing marijuana retailers to establish tasting rooms for customers to consume select products – much like a brewery taproom.

The bipartisan measure is believed to be one of the first of its kind in the nation – if not the first. It now goes to Gov. John Hicklenlooper for his consideration.

“I think this is the first state to explicitly allow/regulate them yet,” Morgan Fox, director of communications of the Marijuana Policy Project, wrote in an email of the tasting rooms.

“Alaska and Nevada are stalled, Maine is out for now, Massachusetts is on hold, and California is slowly approaching on a local basis,” he wrote. “I haven’t heard anything about the rest.”

The bill authorizes a currently licensed recreational marijuana store to establish a separate tasting room “located in the same local jurisdiction” as the dispensary.

The tasting room could sell cannabis, marijuana-infused products and concentrates, but smoking would not be allowed.

Other restrictions include:

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  • Sales of alcohol or tobacco would be prohibited.
  • Customers could purchase and consume only products supplied by the retailer.
  • Free samples would be banned.
  • A customer must be at least 21.
  • Each retailer could operate only one tasting room.

If Hickenlooper signs the legislation, Fox said, it “will give other states a look at how to effectively regulate cannabis social consumption locations, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the number of people cited for public consumption drops pretty quickly.”

He added: “I think it will also go a long way towards reaching equivalency with alcohol in terms of public perception and hopefully will help further chip away at the negative stigmas associated with cannabis consumers.”

The state House repassed an amended bill on tasting rooms by a margin of 40-25, just days after the Senate passed the measure with a 22-12 margin.

While Colorado would appear to be on the leading edge in approving taste rooms, lawmakers this year rejected a bill that would have permitted marijuana social clubs.