KUSA – The state is cracking down on marijuana in bars and restaurants a week after Denver voted to allow it.
The new rule was published Friday by the Liquor Enforcement Division of the Colorado Department of Revenue.
It prohibits marijuana consumption at any business that holds a liquor license starting January 1, 2017.
“This isn’t a surprise,” said Mason Tvert, an organizer for Initiative 300. “It’s kind of astonishing that the Department of Revenue is working on behalf of the liquor industry to protect its turf.”
The idea to ban marijuana at bars and restaurants that hold a liquor license was raised by members of the liquor industry this summer during a series of workshops hosted by DOR to review existing regulations, according a press release.
But Ron Kammerzell, DOR’s senior director of enforcement told The Denver Post Initiative 300 wasn’t the main reason for the new rule.
“Detecting the combined impairment from marijuana and alcohol would be very difficult for servers at bars and restaurants,” Executive Director of MADD Colorado Fran Lanzer said in a statement. “It’s just not reasonable to expect that servers could effectively identify the combined impairment from alcohol and marijuana and prevent impaired customers from driving.”
The new rule doesn’t completely block Initiative 300.
Coffee shops, yoga studios and any business that doesn’t serve alcohol could apply for a permit to let its customers use marijuana.
Businesses wanting to apply for a permit will have to wait until Denver City Council creates the application. That’s likely to be sometime in January.
They’ll also have to win the approval of at least one neighborhood association in their area.
Denver City Council plans to start work drafting the ordinance and permit process soon, and permits could be available in January.
Marijuana dispensaries can’t apply because state law bans on-site consumption. But that could also change.
A bill is being floated for the 2017 legislative session that would let dispensaries build tasting rooms.
And Tvert thinks a bar or restaurant in Denver could challenge DOR’s new rule.
“I would not be surprised if we see challenges,” Tvert said. “The rule was created to override what Denver voters approved.”