New Colorado Marijuana Hospitality Rules Take Effect As Regulators Tout Earlier ‘Successes’ Like Online Sales

Colorado marijuana regulators are promoting new rules for the industry that take effect on Monday—including increased sales limits for cannabis hospitality businesses that allow on-site use. They are also touting “successes” from the past year such as opening up online sales.

The state Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) shared a list of rules that have been enacted under legislation passed by lawmakers and signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis (D) last year.

At the top of the list is the online sales development, which took effect last August. Customers must still physically pick up the marijuana products from retailers, but now they can browse and electronically purchase cannabis online ahead of visiting the store.

As of January 8, other key regulations are being implemented, too. That includes increasing the amount of cannabis that can be sold at licensed marijuana hospitality businesses to one ounce of flower and eight grams of concentrate.

The new rules will also require hospitality businesses to provide patrons with information about transportation options and establish standards to prevent overconsumption, while exempting them from certain requirements related to video surveillance at certain areas of spas.

Regulations that have already taken effect this past year that MED highlighted include new authorizations to seize and destroy regulated marijuana products that pose a threat to public health, a rule that allows new cannabis businesses to maintain and renew state licensure even if they’re rejected by local governments and empowering regulators to promulgate rules allowing or banning “chemical modification, conversion, or synthetic derivation of cannabinoids.”

“As we approach the new year, we are committed to leveraging the unique opportunity we have to reflect on our successes and lessons learned as one of the most mature adult-use cannabis markets in the nation,” Dominique Mendiola, senior director of MED, said in a press release. “We look forward to continuing our work together to demonstrate a model for responsible regulation as directed by the voters of Colorado and the General Assembly.”

The regulatory update comes days after Colorado’s governor, advocates and stakeholders celebrated the 10th anniversary of the first legal cannabis sales nationally and globally in the state.

“Since Colorado voters legalized cannabis a decade ago, Colorado has developed one of the leading regulatory systems in the world and inspired countless others like it across the country and around the globe,” Gov. Jared Polis (D) told Marijuana Moment.

“The legal cannabis industry has created thousands of jobs and helped grow our economy and we have made important progress around equity, industry growth, banking, and utilized sales revenue to build schools around the state,” he said. “We continue pushing for a better, more efficient, and more just system that best serves the people of Colorado.”

To that point, MED said it will “also be announcing additional stakeholder meetings in early 2024, with a focus on regulatory efficiencies and operational streamlining measures.”

The governor, meanwhile, is proposing new cannabis tax revenue distributions at the state level to further promote equity and streamline licensing as he pushes for federal reform. And he said recently that his state should be at the “center” of the national and global marijuana trade once broad prohibition is lifted.

Polis separately reiterated that he “strongly” supports a congressional bill called the Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation (SAFER) Banking Act to help normalize the marijuana industry at the federal level. But he added that what really needs to happen is federal legalization, which he hopes will enable Colorado to lead the sector at the national and international level.

The governor recently applauded Biden after his administration’s top health agency recommended rescheduling marijuana—but he says the initial move must be followed with more action to address cannabis banking, immigration, criminal justice reform and federal enforcement concerns. Relatedly, the president did expand on his mass pardon this month, which Polis also touted as an example of the White House following Colorado’s lead.

This week, Polis’s office pushed back against criticism from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who claimed at a presidential campaign event that Colorado’s legalization of marijuana led to an increase in the size of the illicit market.

“The facts are that Colorado voters approved the legalization of marijuana which is curbing the illicit market, getting dealers off the streets, reducing youth use, funding school construction, supporting jobs and Colorado’s economy,” a spokesperson for the governor told Marijuana Moment. “Colorado is happy to provide the Florida governor advice on how to increase economic and personal freedom like we have in the free state of Colorado.”

Meanwhile, Polis has also called on lawmakers to take steps to allow him to issue mass pardons for people with prior psychedelics convictions after he signed legislation to implement regulations for substances like psilocybin and ayahuasca in May in line with a legalization ballot initiative that voters approved last year.

He also recently approved legislation that will bolster marijuana-related protections for working professionals in the state—effectively codifying an executive order he issued last year.

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Photo courtesy of Brian Shamblen.

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