By Jesse Paul
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper on Monday vetoed a bill that would have allowed licensed marijuana "tasting rooms" in Colorado -- legislation that was the first of its kind in the nation -- citing health and safety concerns.
House Bill 1258 would have let adults at current recreational marijuana retailers consume small amounts of pot through edibles or by vaping.
"We are concerned that marijuana use at consumption establishments could result in additional impaired or intoxicated drivers on our roadways," Hickenlooper, a term-limited Democrat, wrote in a letter announcing the veto. "... This bill also poses public health risks. Allowing vaporization of marijuana in confined spaces poses a significant health risk for employees and patrons of consumption establishments."
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.
The bill's concept greatly differed from pot clubs 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.
House Bill 1258 was opposed by the American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and backed by the marijuana industry -- which blasted Monday's veto.
"What we were trying to do with House Bill 1258 was offer certainty on the issue of public cannabis consumption so that regulators could have a bright line when it comes to enforcement," Chris Woods, the owner of the recreational marijuana chain Terrapin Care Station, said in a statement. "In its wisdom, the Colorado Legislature sought to close a significant gap in regulation. It's unfortunate that the governor chose not to offer another regulatory tool to state and local regulators. This fight is not over."
Hickenlooper on Monday also vetoed House Bill 1427, which prohibited members of the state's Sex Offender management Board from financially benefiting from the panel's decisions.
"We all support proper handling of conflicts. We veto this bill today, however, because it is redundant and overbroad," Hickenlooper wrote in a letter vetoing that bill. "Despite the issues with HB 18-1427, recent media reports raise important issues as to the need for better conflict of management interests."
The measures are among five from the recently ended 2018 legislative session that Hickenlooper has vetoed.
On Friday, the governor rejected three bills, including one would have withheld child autopsies from public inspection.
State lawmakers cannot override the vetoes because the Colorado General Assembly is no longer in session. (The legislature closed on May 9.)
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