AURORA | You can soon build it and they will come, and smoke it if they want.
Local lawmakers have set in motion the framework that will allow so-called “marijuana hospitality businesses” to set up shop in Aurora. City council members gave initial approval to new zoning measures Monday night that permit the businesses that will host consumption of legal cannabis.
Council members Dave Gruber, Francoise Bergan and Angela Lawson voted against the measure.
The new rules allow for mobile and fixed-location businesses, and patrons will only be allowed to bring products that are packaged and accompanied with proof of purchase from a regulated Colorado retailer. For mobile consumption businesses, such as so-called party buses, vehicles will be required to log routes, limit stops to less than 30 minutes at a time and will be prohibited from stopping outside of schools, hospitals and in-patient substance abuse facilities.
Michael Eymer, owner of Colorado Cannabis Tours, told a city council committee earlier this year that his vehicles are equipped with airtight dividers and separate ventilation systems to avoid the driver inhaling secondhand smoke.
Marijuana hospitality businesses are also regulated by a bevy of state rules.
In Aurora, where the number of retail cannabis stores are capped, staff recommended the city council not include hospitality businesses in the current number of regulated stores. Instead, they recommended no more than 24 hospitality-sales combined business exist in the city. No more than a quarter of the total number of hospitality businesses shall be located in a single ward.
The city has also opted to grant half of licenses for the hospitality businesses to “social equity applicants,” which was also a key component to the city’s cannabis delivery ordinance passed earlier this year.
Hours for all consumption businesses will be regulated by the city, open between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m., which corresponds to regulations for retail stores. While existing retail marijuana businesses will be able to apply for the new licenses for consumption, new hospitality businesses will be completely separate from stores. City regulations, via the ordinance, dictate that those new businesses can’t sell, transfer, distribute or grow products themselves.
No alcohol will be able to be distributed at any hospitality facility, but fixed-location businesses could offer food if the facilities are separate and isolated.
Marijuana-related hospital visits nearly doubled in a couple of years post-legalization. Overall youth usage rates increased. Homelessness exploded. Related traffic crashes increased. Yeah, good job, Aurora. Let’s keep that ball rolling.
Public healthThe study shows that the biggest increase in marijuana-related hospitalizations occurred prior to recreational legalization. There was about a 100% increase in hospitalization rate between 2010 and 2013, what the report calls the era of medical marijuana legalization, from 1,260 to 2,446 per 100,000 total hospitalizations. The increase continued through 2016, when there were 3,516 marijuana-related hospitalizations per 100,000, though the numbers have been stable ever since, with 3,515 per 100,000 in 2019.
The number of calls to poison control related to marijuana exposure also has increased considerably, according to data provided by the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center. There were a total of 127 in 2013, which ballooned to 223 in 2014 after legalization and peaked in 2019 with 276. While the initial increase occurred among all age groups, the study notes that the most significant jump was among exposure for children ages 5 and younger, from 15 in 2012 to 103 in 2019.
Among individuals seeking treatment for substance use, the admission rate for individuals reporting marijuana as their primary substance has decreased since legalization, from 222 per 100,000 Colorado residents in 2012 to 182 in 2019.
Youth impactsWhile adult use continues to increase, legalization appears to have had little impact on youth marijuana use. According to the most recent Healthy Kids Colorado Survey in 2019, a sampling of more than 46,500 high school students from around the state, 20.6% reported using marijuana in the past 30 days compared with 19.7% in 2013 and more than 24% in 2009.
The Healthy Kids Colorado Survey also shows that the number of students trying marijuana before age 13 has declined, from 9.2% in 2015 to 6.7% in 2019.
Data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, a smaller sampling of just 447 respondents, showed a small decrease in use among youths from 12.6% during the 2013-14 school year to 9.8% during the 2018-19 school year.
The number of juvenile marijuana arrests also has decreased dramatically since legalization, a 37% dip from the 3,265 arrests in 2012 to 2,064 in 2019.
According to data from the Colorado Department of Education, drug suspension rates have decreased from 551 students per 100,000 in the 2010-11 school year to 426 in the 2019-20 school year. Similarly, the drug expulsion rate decreased from 91 in the 2010-11 school year to 23 in the 2019-20 school year.
https://www.aspentimes.com/news/colorado-releases-report-on-impacts-of-marijuana-legalization/ (July 2021)
Where are you getting your stats from about legalization?