These are all of the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Marijuana bills proposed in the 2021 session. Each bill has its own bill number, please use your browser search feature to find the bill you are interested in. Return to the Colorado home page to pick a different bill category.

None of the text is the opinion of Engage. Each bill's description, arguments for, and arguments against are our best effort at describing what each bill does, arguments for, and arguments against the bill. The long description is hidden by design, you can click on it to expand it if you want to read more detail about the bill. If you believe we are missing something, please contact us with your suggestion. Some of these bills have the notation that they have been sent to the chamber's "kill" committee. This means that the leadership has decided to send the bill to the State committee even though it does not belong there based on its subject matter. This committee, in both chambers, is stacked with members from "safe" districts and the idea is to kill the bill without forcing any less safe members to take a hard vote. It is possible for a bill to survive the kill committee, but it is very rare.

Prime sponsors are given after each bill, with Senate sponsors in () and House sponsors in []. They are color-coded by party.

Some bills will have text highlighted in pink or highlighted in orange or highlighted in yellow. Pink highlights mean House amendments to the original bill; orange mean Senate amendments; yellow highlights mean conference committee amendments. The bill will say under the header if it has been amended.

Each bill has been given a "magnitude" category: Mega, Major, Medium, Minor+, Minor, and Technical. This is a combination of the change the bill would create and the "controversy" level of the bill. Some minor bills that are extending current programs would be major changes if they were introducing something new, but the entire goal here is to allow you to better curate your time. Something uncontroversial likely to pass nearly unanimously that continues a past program may not be worth your time (and please remember, you can still read all of the minor bills!). Technical bills are here to round out the list. They are non-substantive changes.

HB21-1027 Continue Alcohol Beverage Takeout And Delivery (Bridges (D), Priola (R)) [Larson (R), Roberts (D)]

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Not yet released

Goal:

  • Permanently allow takeout and delivery of alcohol from restaurants with some stricter restrictions that get automatically relaxed during a disaster emergency. Was set to expire in July 2022.

Description:

This permanently extends a law passed last year during the pandemic that allows those with licenses that allow them to sell alcohol for on premise consumption to sell alcohol for delivery or for takeout for consumption off-premises. Alcohol must be in a sealed container. Alcohol may be sold by the drink. Requires a specific permit, except during a disaster emergency declared by the governor. Again except during a disaster emergency, limit of 750 mL or 26.4 fluid ounces of wine and spirits or 72 fluid ounces of beer or hard cider. And again, except during a disaster emergency, the seller cannot derive more than 50% of its food and alcohol beverage revenue from takeout and delivery orders. Delivery may only be done by employees over the age of 21 and must have completed server and seller training for alcohol.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • We’ve been running a massive statewide experiment on this process during the past year and it works. It does not seem to harm public safety. It provides a good service. And people like it

In Further Detail: We have basically been experimenting this since Coronavirus hit. And it turns out that allowing restaurants to deliver alcohol or sell it with takeout orders does not in fact harm public safety. Quite the contrary really, with people drinking at home rather than at a restaurant. It provides a good service. This bill allows this to continue in normal times with appropriate guardrails limiting the amount of alcohol that can be delivered, requiring a permit, and ensuring the delivery is done by a qualified adult. And during times like these, it appropriately relaxes these restrictions which helps restaurants stay in business and helps consumers get access to the adult beverages of their choice. There is no reason to have a date in the future when the program expires.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • It is too early to draw wide conclusions, especially since we are not operating in normal times yet
  • Having provisions of law expire means they must be looked at with fresh eyes in different times and prove themselves again in order to continue. That is definitely appropriate with a dangerous and regulated good like alcohol

In Further Detail: The key word here is yet. We have yet to see any harm to public safety but not only is it very early to draw definite conclusions, we also aren’t even operating in normal times, with people moving around as they normally would. So we cannot truly say we know that this would not cause an increase in drinking and driving, as the person consuming the alcohol is away from the eyes of the restaurant employees (this would apply in particular to takeout orders). And having an expiration date on a law forces it to be re-examined in order to continue, with fresh eyes and in potentially different times. The law must prove itself worthy again in order to continue. That seems especially appropriate to something like alcohol, which is heavily regulated and potentially dangerous.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1027

HB21-1038 Concealed Handguns On School Grounds [Neville (R)]

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Removes the limitation on carrying concealed handguns (by people with valid permits to do so) on school grounds.

Description: Nothing to add

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • We need to allow people with valid concealed carry permits to protect themselves and others. Otherwise the only people at schools with guns will be the bad guys when they show up. Having a concealed carry permit means vetting by the state

In Further Detail: The elimination of the ability to have concealed guns at schools means the only people with guns at schools are bad guys, which leads to the unfortunate shootings that have become all too common being worse as there is no one the scene to intervene. A good guy with a gun on the scene could nip many of these situations in the bud, as we have seen several times in the last year where the death toll could have been higher but for the immediate intervention of a bystander who had a gun. Someone has to have a valid permit in order to do this, so they have already been vetted by the state, to carry a gun around in public situations. There are also many teachers with concealed carry permits that would like to protect their students if the need ever arose. We already trust folks with these permits, let’s let them help protect our kids.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • Civilians are not trained to react to active shooter situations and could shoot innocent bystanders by mistake. They also could shoot someone who doesn’t even have a gun by mistake, this happens enough with trained police officers already
  • Having multiple people with guns makes it difficult for police to determine who the good and bad guys are when responding to the scene
  • People are also potentially sloppy with their guns, in other states they’ve been accidentally left in bathrooms or classrooms for anyone to find

In Further Detail: Introducing guns into schools is a recipe for disaster. Civilians are not trained to assess and react to active shooter situations and may be just as likely to shoot innocent bystanders as the gunman. At the shooting at the STEM school in 2019 a security guard who was not supposed to have a concealed weapon mistakenly shot at a responding police officer and missed, wounding two students. In addition, this lack of training may result in a tragedy where a concealed carry individual believes someone has a gun when in fact they do not. It is also nearly impossible for police reacting to the scene to suss out who the good guys and the bad guys are, which can (and has) led to police shooting a bystander who was trying to help. This happens far too often with trained police officers already. Since Columbine, police training to react to these mass shooter incidents has improved greatly and they are more likely to resolve any active shooter situation in the best manner possible. Civilians are also more likely to be sloppy with their guns, leaving them in bathrooms or classrooms for others to find (this has happened in other states). In addition, while it is true that permit holders are vetted, we don’t allow them in the state capitol, where the legislators work, so let’s keep them out of schools.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1038

HB21-1044 Winery License Include Noncontiguous Areas (Bridges (D)) [Hooton (D), Larson (R)]

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Not yet released

Goal:

  • Allow wineries to maintain licensed premises of up to five different non-contiguous sites within a 10-mile radius so long as they have federal approval and proof they are complying with all local ordinances

Description:

Wineries with this kind of license can only operate a sales room at one location. For purposes of entertainment districts or common consumption areas (where you can legally walk around with open containers of alcohol), only the parts of the winery that are contiguously within the zone count.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Growing wine frequently relies on micro-climates, so many wineries have land that is not contiguous. It doesn’t make sense to force them to license each different place if they are close to each other, and the limits of 5 sites within 10 miles ensures we aren’t going overboard with numerous facilities spread far apart

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1044

HB21-1058 Promoting Social Distancing In Marijuana Industry (Gonzales (D)) [Gray (D)]

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Allow physicians to prescribe medical marijuana cards based on remote consultation

Description:

Remove clause that prohibits retail marijuana stores from products online and delivering products to people not physically present at their store. This delivery clause actually conflicts with other parts of state law, as a different law allows online sales and delivery by retail marijuana stores if it is permitted by their local jurisdiction.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • We should not be requiring people to see a doctor in person to get a medical marijuana card, especially since we are moving to allowing more and more telehealth in the rest of medicine. And this is not just due to the pandemic, it greatly helps in rural areas and for people who struggle to physically travel
  • The rest is just clean-up, old provisions that conflict with new laws

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • This is an illegal drug in federal law. We don’t need to making it easier for people to break federal laws. The federal government looking the other way could always end. We need to instead pull back from all of this.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1058

SB21-056 Expand Cannabis-based Medicine At Schools (Holbert (R), Gonzales (D)) [Van Winkle (R), Gray (D)]

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Negligible this year

Goal:

  • Require schools to permit storage, possession, and administration of non-smokeable marijuana-based medicine on school grounds by volunteer school personnel to students with valid medical marijuana recommendations based on a plan agreed to by the school and the parents. Previously this was left to the discretion of the school principal. Primary caregivers were already allowed to do this, previously they had to remove the marijuana from school grounds when finished administering it

Description:

Schools must treat medical marijuana in this form as no different from any other prescription medication when it comes to doctor’s recommendation to use it. They are not allowed to discipline volunteers in any way for participating.

The law already contains provisions that the administration must be done in a non-disruptive manner and governing the creation of a plan that meets school district policies. The bill keeps provisions that allow schools to opt-out if they can demonstrate they will lose federal funding. It also keeps provisions around keeping the medical marijuana in a locked storage container but adds that the storage of the drug must not significantly delay access to it in an emergency.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • This is a matter of children’s health and the simple fact is that non-smokeable medical marijuana has been found to be helpful to students who experience seizures. No parent should have to choose between public education and their child’s well-being
  • The initial law in 2018 allowing caregivers to administer this drug is being flaunted and resisted in some parts of the state
  • To ensure our kids get the care they need, we have to strengthen this law and remove the principal’s discretion. It is still a volunteer basis to administer the drug

In Further Detail: This is a prescription drug that helps some children experience better health, and can be useful in dangerous situations like seizures, more useful and better than other available drugs. There is no excuse for denying this beneficial and non-dangerous (at least in the sense that prescription drugs are not dangerous) to our kids or forcing parents to pull their kids out of school because they cannot access it. The law passed in 2018 is being ignored in some parts of the state (meaning they aren’t even allowing parents to administer the drug as required)  and some have gone so far as to enact their own rules and ordinances in direct contradiction to the law. That is not how our system works. So we need a stronger and more definite law to protect the health of our kids. It is still a volunteer basis to actually administer the drug, so no one will be forced against their will. But enough with the rest of this. Times are changing. Colorado is no longer close to unique in our legalization of marijuana and it is very clearly only a matter of time before federal law changes.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • This remains an illegal drug at the federal level. Keeping on property and administering it to kids is a federal crime. Until that changes we should not be doing this. There are other medications kids can take
  • There is no guarantee that the federal government will continue turning a blind eye to all of this

In Further Detail: This is a federal crime, full stop. No one disputes this, of course at the moment the federal government is choosing to ignore the law and not enforce it in Colorado, but there is no guarantee that will continue and if that situation changes, the state cannot protect anyone who engaged in illegal behavior from federal prosecution.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-056

SB21-078 Lost Or Stolen Firearms (Jaquez Lewis (D), Danielson (D)) [Sullivan (D), Herod (D)]

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Requires any firearm owner who reasonably believes that a firearm has been either lost or stolen to report this to a law enforcement agency within five days of discovery. Report must include manufacturer, model, serial number, caliber, and any other identification number or distinguishing mark. Does not apply to licensed gun dealers.

Description:

Within five days of receiving the report, law enforcement must enter information into national crime information center database and report information to Colorado Bureau of Investigation. If someone finds a lost firearm they have reported as stolen, they must inform law enforcement. First violation of this law is a petty offense with a $25 fine while second or subsequent violations are a class 3 misdemeanor.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • A lot of guns are stolen every year in this country—basically one every two minutes. Knowing about the theft helps law enforcement to try to get illegal weapons off the streets and crack down on straw purchasers (people buying guns for others who cannot legally buy them)
  • The penalties in the bill are extremely mild—especially for first offenses. This is about behavior change, not punishment

In Further Detail: Nationwide nearly 40% of lost or stolen guns are not reported. And a gun is stolen in the US every two minutes. These guns generally go straight into illegal gun markets where they can end up in the hands of criminals. And the vast majority are never recovered, around 11% nationwide. A study estimated that 19,630 guns were stolen in Colorado between 2012 and 2015. Stolen guns were involved in nearly 200 crimes in Denver and Aurora between 2013 and 2015. Of course securely storing your gun is the prime way to keep it from being stolen, but that is the subject of a different bill. This bill is about what happens when a gun is stolen. Knowing about the theft allows law enforcement to spot trends, deploy resources, and try to get illegal weapons off the streets. Not having mandatory reporting also allows individuals to act as straw purchasers: buy guns for those who cannot legally buy them. Then when the guns are used in connection with a crime to simply say the gun was stolen. A version of this law already exists in other states and the first time penalty is extremely mild. Subsequent offenses can be used to crack down on straw purchasers. We are trying to change basic behavior here, not punish victims. We have heard for years that is not guns that kill people, but people who kill people. Anyone who genuinely believes that should be behind mandatory reporting of stolen weapons.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • We should not punish victims of a crime
  • The steps from knowing a weapon is stolen to actually recovering it are fairly opaque and police have other tools to deal with straw purchasers

In Further Detail: You can dress it up any way you want but this punishes the victim of a crime. And the second offense carries a penalty of up to 6 months in jail. We aren’t going to stop crime by penalizing crime victims. Gun theft is obviously a large problem but the steps from: police knowing about the theft to recovering the weapon before it is used in a crime are fairly opaque. Police can already zero in on straw purchasers by tracing guns used in crime back to them. Of course people should report if their weapon is stolen, but we should not punish someone who doesn’t.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-078

SB21-082 Alcohol Beverage Festival For Tastings And Sales (Priola (R))

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Not yet released

Goal:

  • Open the ability to hold tasting festivals, currently only available to wineries that don’t operate retail, to a wide range of alcohol licensees. These festivals also permit retail sales on-site, even if the licensee doesn’t have that sort of license, which the bill keeps.

Description:

Bill also keeps limit of 9 festivals every 12 months lasting no more than 72 hours per permit and the ability for other same-license holders to participate. Exact licensees permitted by the bill to hold festivals include:

  • Retail liquor store
  • Beer and wine
  • Hotel and restaurant
  • Tavern
  • Retail gaming
  • Brew pub
  • Arts
  • Vintner’s restaurant
  • Distillery pub
  • Winery operating a sales room
  • Spirits manufacturer operating a sales room
  • Beer manufacturer operating a sales room

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • This is just the ability to apply for a license, it must still be approved so no one will be pulling a fast one on the state and operating without approval
  • This just brings baseline fairness to the state’s alcohol industry—these tasting fairs are wonderful opportunities for local businesses to get exposure to the public

In Further Detail: First, it is important to note that all the bill does is open application for these festival licenses up to the rest of the alcohol industry. Any festival would still have to be approved, according to state rules. All this bill does is level the playing field in the state’s alcohol industry. Why should wineries that don’t sell wine at their location be the only ones allowed to use the wonderful marketing and sales opportunity that a tasting festival brings? Safety concerns are overblown, festivals must provide for the safety of participants as part of their permit.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • This takes something that is designed to boost Colorado’s wine industry, which is a very small fish in a huge ocean, and instead allows it to benefit anyone selling or making alcohol in Colorado—which is likely to drown out the very people who were supposed to be the ones the law helps: Colorado wineries
  • This could be dangerous. People get intoxicated on hard alcohol much more quickly than wine (obviously) so it follows that a hard alcohol tasting greatly raises the risk of alcohol-related dangers like drunk driving

In Further Detail: This law is supposed to be helping our state wine industry, in particular wineries that aren’t selling their wines at their winery. These are tiny players in a massive, global, industry that need the extra boost of being able to hold these festivals. If we open the floodgates to everyone, we are likely to drown out our local wineries in a sea of internationally distributed products that are more familiar to regular folks. This also could be highly dangerous. Even wine tastings can produce drunken behavior if people aren’t careful, and hard alcohol is much more likely to cause rapid and unintentional drunkenness. That in turn greatly raises the risk of alcohol-related dangers like drunk driving.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-082

SB21-086 Beer Delivery By Third-party Services (Liston (R)) [Geitner (R))

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Not yet released

Goal:

  • Allow retailers with fewer than 7,500 square feet of premises to use third-party delivery service to deliver beer so long as the person making the delivery is at least 21

Description:

Currently all retailers must use their own employees to make beer deliveries (and alcohol of any kind).

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • This will help smaller liquor stores, who many not be able to use an employee or either a company vehicle or employee vehicle to deliver alcohol but could pay a third-party to do so
  • This is limited to just beer, and we already let delivery services deliver alcohol from restaurants

In Further Detail: Many smaller liquor stores simply cannot afford to use an employee to deliver alcohol, which also involves either a company vehicle or insurance liability requirements for the employee’s vehicle. This bill would let them participate in the growing alcohol delivery industry, but just for beer, not harder alcohol or wine. We already let delivery services like DoorDash deliver sealed alcohol from restaurants, so this is not much of a stretch from current policy—single drinks, not bottles of alcohol.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • We shouldn’t be letting alcohol delivery for restaurants continue (it was essentially an emergency measure to mitigate COVID related business impacts), for the same reason we should not pass this bill: licensing and accountability.
  • Limiting this to smaller stores is also unfair to larger ones

In Further Detail: Alcohol delivery for restaurants is in essence a temporary measure to mitigate the fact that they all had to close for in-person dining. The reason for not allowing that to continue or expanding it to liquor stores is our licensing structure. The liquor store holds the license to sell alcohol. They have to meet strict standards to do so and whatever happens in their store is on them and their license. Bringing a third-party into this that holds no special license to handle alcohol at all does serious damage to our ability to regulate and hold accountable people operating in a business field where they have a potentially dangerous product that is illegal to sell to those under the age of 21. But if we are going to take the step of doing this, we should not be singling out small liquor stores at the expense of larger ones who might want to do this too.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-086

SB21-111 Program To Support Marijuana Entrepreneurs (Moreno (D), Gonzales (D)) [Herod (D), Ortiz (D)]

Appropriation: $4 million from marijuana tax cash fund
Fiscal Impact: None beyond appropriation

Goal:

  • Create a program to provide loans and grants to marijuana social equity licensees. Loans are to provide seed capital and cover on-going businesses expenses. Grants are to support innovation and job creation. Funds the program with $4 million from the marijuana tax cash fund

Description:

Social equity license qualifications are: Colorado resident, no disciplinary action against a license held by the state, own at least 51% of a marijuana business and have meet one of the following criteria: lived for at least 15 years in an opportunity zone or disproportionate impact zone, applicant or applicant’s family member was arrested or convicted of a marijuana offense, or their household income did not exceed the state’s threshold for the program.

The fund for this program is called the Marijuana Entrepreneur Fund and the program is to be managed by the Office of Economic Development but that office can use a partner entity. On-going business expenses can include: rent, leases, licensing fees, regulatory adherence, marijuana testing, equipment, capital improvements, and training and retention of workers. Grants can also go to organizations that support innovation and job creation of social equity licensees.

State must determine rules for eligibility, grant and loan amounts, application deadlines, loan terms, and anything else required to run the program.

Program is also to provide technical assistance for all marijuana businesses owners, with priority given to social equity licensees who have grants or loans through the program. This can consist of business plan development, consulting services, and supporting existing public or private technical assistance programs.

State is to report by July 1 of 2022 and 2023 on how the office is using the money provided to the program.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Marijuana is a big business in this state that still disproportionately excludes people of color and those with past marijuana convictions
  • Getting people with marijuana convictions into the business of selling it legally helps move people out of the gray market (selling a legal drug in an illegal manner)
  • We are at a critical hardening juncture of this industry where it will become increasingly difficult for new players to break-in, so help to social equity licensees is justified

In Further Detail: Marijuana has become a big business in this state: over $2 billion in annual revenues and more than 40,000 people employed. But it still disproportionately excludes people of color. In Denver, 75% of owners of marijuana businesses are white and so are 68% of employees, despite whites being 55% of Denver’s population. This is a widely known, nationwide problem. In addition, one of the original elements of implementation was that no one with a past marijuana conviction could obtain a license. That was recently changed, in recognition that moving people out of the gray market and into the licensed marketplace remains an important task in Colorado. Part of that is allowing people to use their skills legally. As with any emerging industry there tends to be a hardening of the various businesses within that industry after several years as competition shakes out. It then becomes much harder to break in for new players. We are at that point with the marijuana industry and so it is appropriate to give a little extra help to those with a social equity license to try to even their playing field.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • Social equity licensees already get some privileges regular licensees do not
  • We need to let the market work: it is not fair to give extra state money to social equity licensees that regular license holders have no access to

In Further Detail: We should not be putting our thumbs on the scales in this manner. We have appropriately given social equity licensees the ability to get regular marijuana licenses so they can open businesses and they already qualify for some benefits regular license holders do not (including reduced fees). Now is the time to let the market work: those social equity licensees who can operate solid businesses can build them under the same rules as everyone else with no extra money injections from the state government.


Bottom Line:

  • This remains a federal crime. Everyone growing or selling marijuana in this state is violating federal law and there is no guarantee the federal government will continue to look the other way. Until it is no longer a federal crime we should not be continuing to normalize it in Colorado and we certainly should not giving state tax money as incentives for people to open more of these businesses

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-111