The Colorado House of Representatives has approved a bill that will allow adults to buy marijuana online—which supporters say will help businesses that have depended largely on cash transactions that put them at risk of crime.
The legislation from Reps. William Lindstedt (D), Said Sharbini (D) and Robert Rodriguez (D) passed the House in a 40-23 vote on Saturday.
It would strike language from existing statute that explicitly prohibits cannabis from being sold on the internet, while adding regulations to provide for online commerce.
Adults 21 and older would still need to physically pick up the marijuana products from the retailer, but they could browse and electronically purchase cannabis online.
The bill says that retailers would be required to verify the name and age of the customer at the time of the online purchase, and that information would have to match identification that they’d provide when they come to pick up the products.
Further, the retailer would have to provide shoppers with “digital versions of all warning or educational materials that the retail marijuana store is required to post and provide on its licensed premises.” The customer would have to “acknowledge receipt” of those materials before finishing their purchase.
Allowing the electronic transactions will also provide a public safety benefit at a time when cannabis dispensaries continue to be targets for robberies due to their general reliance on cash, the bill sponsors argued.
“The goal here is to prevent a barrier for transactions to help businesses make sure that they can take these funds in so they’re not all cash businesses as well,” Sharbini said during the second reading floor debate on Friday.
“At this point, there are banks that are opening up to function with them. Regulations are opening up across the country, and we need to be competitive as well,” he said. “This is a step in that direction, and trying to make sure that we can facilitate better business.”
Lindstedt echoed that point, saying the bill “keeps cash out of these businesses, letting them do these transactions online,” and “there’s a public safety benefit and an efficiency for them to be allowed to do this.”
The bill also strike language from statute that says marijuana retailers can’t deliver cannabis products to adults, but delivery services were previously legalized under a measure that Gov. Jared Polis (D) signed in 2019, making that statutory prohibition largely redundant.
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Since becoming one of the first states to legalize adult-use marijuana, Colorado lawmakers have taken up numerous reforms to build upon and revise the law
The state has taken steps to promote energy efficiency in the cannabis sector and also ensure social equity in the industry is prioritized as it continues to grow and diversify.
The governor recently touted the state’s first-ever marijuana vending machine, which can package, label and dispense cannabis products to adult consumers—with transactions being completed in as little as 50 seconds.
Last year, Polis signed an executive order to provide broad professional licensing protections for workers who use marijuana in compliance with state law. The move also prevents state agencies from assisting in any out-of-state investigations related to lawful cannabis conduct that could result in employment penalties.
Colorado officials have also repeatedly called on the federal government to enact reform, and the governor contacted U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra to inquire about the timeline for the agency’s review into federal marijuana scheduling that President Joe Biden directed last year.
The state has also been a hub for bold psychedelic reform, with voters approving a ballot initiative last year to legalize certain entheogenic substances and allow psilocybin therapy.
Colorado senators recently signed off on the 15 appointees for a psilocybin advisory board that was required under the enacted initiative.