By Conor McCue

DENVER (CBS4) – Among the state laws going into effect on Jan. 1, are two new marijuana laws – both of which will still await implementation in Denver and other municipalities. In 2019, Gov. Jared Polis signed House Bills 1230 and 1234 into law.

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House Bill 1234 allows for the commercial delivery of marijuana. It will begin with medical marijuana in 2020 and recreational pot will follow a year later.

Additionally, House Bill 1230 will allow two new types of marijuana-related businesses in the state. Businesses can apply to be licensed as a tasting room that can sell cannabis products on-site. The law also allows for “marijuana hospitality establishments,” which allow the on-site consumption of marijuana, but the not sale of it. Hospitality establishments can be mobile, such as a tour bus.

According to the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Marijuana Enforcement Division, both laws are subject to local approval. So, while the state will accept new applications in 2020, some cities won’t necessarily be ready.

“Denver has not decided officially yet whether we will opt in or opt out,” said Eric Escudero, spokesman for the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses, which reviews local license applications.

A small handful of social consumption establishments have existed in Denver since voters approved Initiative 300 in 2016, which granted businesses the ability to apply for a license to allow for adult marijuana consumption in designated areas. Such businesses are not permitted to sell marijuana.

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The Coffee Joint, located on Yuma Court, owns one of Denver’s two licenses for cannabis consumption. Currently, customers can bring their own cannabis products, or they can walk to the separate, but connected, dispensary next door.

Owner Rita Tsalyuk tells CBS4 she plans to expand her business in the next few years. She’s already applied for a state license under the new laws, but can’t do the same in Denver until the city makes a judgement.

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“I don’t think it’s going to change much the business here, but we would be given different opportunities to apply within town or different jurisdictions,” Tsalyuk said.

According to spokesman Eric Escudero, Denver’s Department of Excise and Licenses is currently taking a hard look at the makeup of the marijuana industry in Denver. The department’s focus is on “social equity,” Escudero explained.

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“So many people were negatively impacted, disproportionately over 50-plus years of the war on drugs, so we have to make sure, if we’re going to issue licenses, that people won’t miss out on opportunities to be involved in that business because maybe they were impacted in the past because of the color of their skin or their race,” He said.

While the city has no deadline for its decision on the law, Escudero tells CBS4 he expects the department’s comprehensive report to be released within a few months. After that, the city could make a decision.

Until then, Tsalyuk will put off any major business decisions.

“Until the City of Denver comes up with the rules, we don’t want to select any location, because we don’t know what the rules are going to be,” she said.

Cities also have the final say on implementing the new law regarding marijuana delivery.

They do not have any control over another new marijuana-related law, which prohibits MCT oil, Vitamin E acetate, and PEG oil from being included in production for products intended to be inhaled.

Conor McCue

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