Free Minds & Free Markets

Colorado's Governor, Who Founded a Brewpub, Nixes Cannabis 'Tasting Rooms'

John Hickenlooper claims letting pot store customers sample the merchandise conflicts with a ballot initiative that promised to regulate marijuana like alcohol.

C-SPANC-SPANYesterday Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper vetoed the latest attempt to give recreational cannabis consumers in his state someplace aside from private residences where they can legally use the marijuana they have been legally buying since the beginning of 2014. Hickenlooper erroneously claimed that H.B. 18-1258, which would have allowed "tasting rooms" where customers of marijuana shops could sample the merchandise, conflicted with Amendment 64, the 2012 ballot initiative that legalized recreational use.

"Amendment 64 is clear," Hickenlooper says in his veto letter. "Marijuana consumption may not be conducted 'openly or publicly' or 'in a manner that endangers others. We find that HB 18-1258 directly conflicts with this constitutional requirement."

Amendment 64, now part of the state constitution, actually says "nothing in this section shall permit consumption that is conducted openly and publicly or in a manner that endangers others." The conjunction is significant because it implies that cannabis consumption can be permitted if it is merely open or merely public but not if it is both. Depending on how open and public are understood, smoking pot on the patio of a restaurant, which is on private property but visible to passers-by, could be legal. So could vaping in a wooded area of a public park, which is on public property but shielded from passers-by.

Even if you don't buy those interpretations, it hardly seems reasonable to claim that vaping or sampling edibles in a tasting room that is located on private property and shielded from passers-by qualifies as "openly and publicly" consuming cannabis. Maybe that is why Hickenlooper changed the and to an or.

As for endangering others, Hickenlooper worries that "HB 18-1258 sends the wrong message by permitting people to consume marijuana in a public setting, a practice that may increase the number of impaired drivers on our roadways." The same logic, of course, condemns bars, restaurants, and other businesses that serve alcohol, including Wynkoop Brewing Company, the Denver brewpub that Hickenlooper cofounded three decades ago. In fact, given that alcohol has a much more dramatic impact on driving ability than cannabis does, establishments like Wynkoop pose a bigger hazard to public safety.

The sponsors of HB 18-1258 hoped that the idea of marijuana tasting rooms would make sense to Hickenlooper because of his experience with his own business, which not only serves beer along with food but offers brewery tours that include samples of Wynkoop's products. Instead he is insisting on an irrational distinction between beer and bud in the name of enforcing a ballot initiative that says "marijuana should be regulated in a manner similar to alcohol."

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  • Just Say'n||

    The Hickenlooper/ Kasich ticket is going to be amazing.

    "Hug a widow, but don't compete with my beer business"

    Kasich/ Hickenlooper, a pairing even worse than Johnson/ Weld (if you can imagine such a thing)

  • Zeb||

    a pairing even worse than Johnson/ Weld (if you can imagine such a thing)

    Umm, Clinton/Kaine? I'll take a half-assed libertarian over a full-bore progressive statist any day.

  • Just Say'n||

    Kasich / Hickenlooper wouldn't be that terrible

  • Eman||

    Klinton/kaine was not only quantifiably but actually quantified as a better campaign.

  • Bubba Jones||

    Some combination of not wanting competition and seeing what drunken assholes his customers can be.

  • Zeb||

    Just give them some weed if they get rowdy and they'll either go barf in the bathroom or settle down and drink slower. Seems like a win all around.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    John Hickenlooper claims letting pot store customers sample the merchandise conflicts with a ballot initiative that promised to regulate marijuana like alcohol.

    To be fair to Gov. Lickapooper, it's not like there's places where one can go and buy alcohol and consume it on the premises. /sarc

  • Hugh Akston||

    I can't wait until that doucheburger is out of office.

  • Dillinger||

    >>>"Marijuana consumption may not be conducted ... 'in a manner that endangers others."

    don't swing the B like a bat?

  • Zeb||

    I'm trying to think of a way of consuming cannabis that endangers others. Not coming up with much. Maybe the old trick of blowing it in someone's face while they are sleeping.

  • Don't look at me.||

    Are these asshats ever going to let this go? STOP RE-ELECTING THE SAME PEOPLE!

  • Shirley Knott||

    But... but... The wrong lizard might get in!

  • Don't look at me.||


  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    You know what other public activity involves projecting something potentially harmful at passersby without their consent...?

  • Don't look at me.||

    Saying something. Because words are violence.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||


    ...literally, because I didn't consent to the content of your comment prior to reading it and, thus, have essentially just been shot.

  • ThomasD||

    You'll get better.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||


  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    Smoke this, pal.

    *points to his dick*

  • This Machine Chips Fascists||

    Here mate, get your lips around this baby.

  • This Machine Chips Fascists||

    I love it when a pol blathers about sending the wrong message. It's a sure tell the it is full of shit. A deer afraid of getting caught in the headlights of change.

  • ||

    Seems pretty plain to me that "openly and publicly" would encompass any space also covered by public accommodation law.

  • NoVaNick||

    Dems are not entirely comfortable yet with being the 420 party it seems-I mean, they wouldn't want to scare away the soccer moms who might be OK with wine tasting but not weed tasting....

  • Agammamon||

    The sponsors of HB 18-1258 hoped that the idea of marijuana tasting rooms would make sense to Hickenlooper because of his experience with his own business,

    Why? I'd have oped the governor - someone who has a financial interest in business selling competing recreational chemicals - *wouldn't* understand. But because he does he is, of course, going to use the power of his office to cripple the competition. And he'll beat his breast, lamenting how he's just a dedicated public servant upholding the law in the face of all these unfair attacks.

  • ThomasD||

    Wait, so this marijuana 'legalization' isn't turning out to be a libertarian moment?

    It's turning out to be incorporation into, and expansion of bureaucratic government?

    I'm shocked.

    Who ever could have seen this coming?

  • Dr. Mike||

    The obvious risk from bars is more significant than for cannabis cafes. But, an easy solution was just described in Wired magazine: The DRUID app measures impairment from cannabis, alcohol, or anything that slows reaction time; takes just 2 minutes. See

    NORML of California is promoting DRUID on their website and is encouraging cannabis users to download it.

  • Marty Feldman's Eyes||

    What he apparently doesn't realize is that his own brewpub customers just grab a drag off a pen vape when they go to the bathroom. At least that's what I do.

    Oil cartridges are conveniently portable and odorless. Vaping in public is just a matter of discretion and not looking like you're doing anything wrong.

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