A man lights a joint in a cannabis club in Barcelona, Spain on Aug. 22, 2014 . (David Ramos, Getty Images file)

Colorado governor pledges to veto pot clubs bill unless changes made

Gov. John Hickenlooper on Wednesday expressed reservations about two major pieces of marijuana legislation in Colorado — in one case citing concerns about the Donald Trump administration’s potential crackdown.

The Democrat pledged to veto a measure that won preliminary approval in the state Senate earlier in the day to allow pot clubs with local approval. To win his support, Hickenlooper said the measure needs to ban smoking marijuana indoors.

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Under Senate Bill 184, local governments would set the regulations on pot clubs in their jurisdiction. But the governor wants it banned, citing a ban on cigarette smoking in public places.

“We went to an amazing amount of trouble to say that we are not going to have smoking in workplaces in Colorado,” he said, suggesting allowing pot smoke inside is a “crack in the door.”

“Smoking is bad for you — very bad for you,” he said.

Hickenlooper also expressed alarm at a measure to allow medical marijuana delivery that received a Senate committee’s approval earlier in the day.

“Given the uncertainty in Washington, this is not the time to be  … trying to carve off new turf and expand markets and make dramatic statements about marijuana,” he said. “The federal government can yield a pretty heavy hand on this and I think we should be doing everything we can to demonstrate … we are being responsible in how we implement the will of our voters.”

The legislation, Senate Bill 192, would allow medical marijuana dispensaries to deliver marijuana products to the homes of qualifying medical marijuana patients. The Senate business committee approved the measure, despite opposition from law enforcement organizations, but eliminated a provision regarding recreational pot deliveries.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Tim Neville, R-Littleton; Rep. Jovan Melton, D-Aurora; and Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont,  is modeled after a system that recently was implemented in Oregon.

“Addressing this crucial gap in access to patient-centered health care is just one of many ways Senate Republicans are working to improve quality health care for all Coloradans,” Neville said.

This story was first published on DenverPost.com