Denver Police Begin Cracking Down On Marijuana Tour Bus Companies
Police say the buses are public places, but cannabis companies say their for-hire limousine buses are private property.
On Friday, two undercover Denver police offices boarded a limousine bus with around 30 other passengers. Just minutes before, the officers had signed up to Colorado Cannabis’s private membership club. They were embarking on something that happens every day in Denver: a “cannabis tour”. A short while into the tour, however, the officers revealed themselves, arresting the driver and handing out citations to all of the passengers on board.
It was a first for the city of Denver; an enforcement action against one of the city’s cannabis tourism companies. And by the time police finished their crackdown, 31 people received citations and one driver ended up in custody.
Undercover Cops Conduct First Ever Sting Against Cannabis Tour Companies
Denver police are cracking down on Colorado’s legal cannabis businesses. Not on storefronts or production centers, but on the very popular “cannabis tours” many companies offer to customers.
The two companies involved in Friday’s enforcement action are My 420 Tours and Colorado Cannabis Tours. Both companies say they’ve been operating cannabis tours without issue for some time.
Colorado law forbids public cannabis consumption. The only exceptions are licensed “designated consumption areas,” or DSAs. Companies can opt to establish their own DSAs, but many say the licensing process is too difficult and expensive to make them very profitable for businesses.
But Colorado’s cannabis industry found a workaround, using a clause on the Colorado government’s own website that private, for-hire transportation companies may allow marijuana consumption “in the rear passenger area only.”
But the rear passenger area is exactly where undercover police cited and arrested more than 30 people on two different companies’ tour buses Friday.
Cannabis Companies Lock Horns With Colorado Government Over Status of “Cannabis Tour”
On Friday, Denver police issued public marijuana consumption citations to 31 people who had paid to take a tour with a private cannabis company. Police also arrested the driver of a tour operated by My 420 Tours. Officers allege the driver was under the influence of marijuana.
“They were forcible with the guides—forcibly removed them from the bus—two young girls, held their hands behind their back like criminals,” Colorado Cannabis Tours CEO and founder Michael Eymer told the Denverite. “Honestly, it was very heavy handed—and it was meant to send a message.”
Police say that cannabis tour buses are unlawful operations. “Consuming marijuana in public is illegal and that is why officers cited the ,” wrote police spokesperson Jay Casillas.
A spokesperson for the Department of Excise and Licenses Eric Escudero said the city sent several warnings. But My 420 Tours and Colorado Cannabis say their buses and tours are not public venues at all. They believe their buses constitute private property.
“Hard to believe a $300,000 limousine party bus with very dark tinted windows and shades that’s not open access to anyone that would like to jump on or jump is in any way open or public,” said Danny Schaeffer, CEO of My 420 Tours.
Cannabis Tour Companies Will Pay Off Their Customer’s Fines
CEOs of both companies highly doubt a case against them will hold up in court. Friday’s incidents represent the first time either company received citations from police. And while the tour bus busts “certainly ruined everybody’s vacation,” according to Eymer, his company, like My 420 Tours will be paying off all of their customers’ citations.