According to a public statement released by the Colorado Department of Revenue (DOR) and Liquor Enforcement Division (LED) on November 18, 2016, LED is adopting proposed regulation 47-900 which prohibits a liquor licensee from permitting the consumption of marijuana and/or marijuana products at a liquor licensed establishment.
This summer, the CRA participated in the LED annual rulemaking and regulatory review process. During this rulemaking process, the issue of marijuana consumption at a liquor licensed establishments was discussed. The CRA, along with many other stakeholders, expressed concerns about the public dual consumption of marijuana and alcohol.
The Colorado Restaurant Association (CRA) supports the adoption of this rule for the following reasons:
- Public consumption of marijuana in restaurants and bars will dramatically increase the liability risks for these establishments. Numerous studies have indicated that combining alcohol and marijuana intensifies the effects of THC and can result in dangerous and unpredictable behavior. In addition, researchers have questioned whether smoking marijuana after consuming even a small amount of alcohol is safe if a person is driving. Restaurants and bars are required by law not to serve visibly intoxicated individuals. They train their staff to ensure customers aren’t overserved, to prevent minors from being served, and to identify signs of intoxication. But they aren’t medical professionals. Allowing the consumption of marijuana in a liquor-licensed establishment puts the owner and employees in a difficult situation with both law enforcement and customers. According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the effects of marijuana typically last two to three hours after marijuana is smoked or inhaled. When marijuana is eaten, the effects take longer to start and may last 4 to 10 hours. If the consumption of marijuana is allowed in restaurants and bars, proprietors will be thrust into situations where they could be held liable for something that was entirely outside of their control.
- Several insurance companies have already indicated to us that they will not insure restaurants and bars that allow marijuana consumption. Others have suggested that they may move out of the Colorado restaurant market altogether. A reduction in the number of insurance providers in Colorado may result in significant price increases for insurance coverage in restaurants and bars.
- If public consumption of marijuana is allowed, it will create a very confusing environment for the consumer, the business owner and law enforcement. Since the private consumption of recreational marijuana was approved in Colorado, many people still don’t fully understand what is legal and allowable in Colorado. If consumption of marijuana is allowed in restaurants and bars as an “opt in” option, this will only create further public confusion about when and where someone can consume marijuana legally. This puts restaurant and bar operators into potentially awkward and difficult situations with customers and employees.