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Understanding Colorado’s Dram Shop Laws: A Look at Marijuana Implications

Dram shop laws, a prevalent legal concept in the United States, pertain to establishments that serve alcohol. These regulations ensure that businesses are held responsible for their involvement in a drunk driver’s intoxication, permitting victims of alcohol-related accidents to pursue compensation if the business exhibited negligence. However, with the evolving landscape of marijuana legalization, the question arises: should companies allowing on-site marijuana use also be held liable for accidents caused by individuals under the influence of marijuana? This article will explore Colorado’s dram shop statutes, their historical context, and the emerging legal considerations related to marijuana consumption. Additionally, we will introduce you to Thomas & Ahnell, LLC, a reputable law firm specializing in alcohol and drug-related driving offenses in Colorado.

The Origins of Dram Shop Laws in Colorado

Colorado’s dram shop statutes date back to 1879. These laws were enacted to address the responsibilities of establishments that serve alcohol. The core principle is that if a person becomes intoxicated at a business that serves alcohol and subsequently causes an accident, the victims may pursue legal action against the business if it can be proven that the establishment acted negligently in serving the alcohol.

Marijuana and the Absence of Dram Shop Laws

The emergence of legalized marijuana raises intriguing questions about whether similar principles should apply to businesses allowing on-site marijuana use. However, this is largely uncharted territory. Unlike alcohol, where Dram shop laws are firmly established, the public consumption of marijuana remains prohibited in Colorado. While this does not deter some individuals from partaking, it underscores the unique challenges surrounding marijuana regulation.

Denver, for example, is actively considering the Limited Social Marijuana Consumption Initiative, which would permit specific businesses to provide accommodations for marijuana smokers. Nevertheless, this legislation would prohibit marijuana use in establishments serving alcohol, and companies allowing smoking would not be permitted to sell marijuana.

Establishing Liability in Marijuana-Related Accidents

Given the absence of specific marijuana dram shop laws in Colorado, determining liability in cases involving accidents caused by individuals under the influence of marijuana can be complex. Plaintiffs would likely need to establish a new standard of liability, which could present challenges in proving the direct contribution of a marijuana-friendly establishment to impairment.

In such a legal landscape, seeking guidance from a skilled attorney is crucial. If you find yourself in a situation involving marijuana-related accidents or legal complexities, consider consulting with a Denver DUI attorney who specializes in navigating the intricacies of Colorado’s alcohol and drug-related driving offenses. Their expertise can provide clarity and guidance in addressing your unique legal circumstances.


Colorado’s dram shop laws, rooted in history and aimed at regulating alcohol-related liabilities, are currently not applicable to marijuana. With evolving marijuana legislation and the potential for marijuana-friendly businesses, a new legal framework may be needed to address liability in marijuana-related accidents. To navigate these legal complexities effectively, consider seeking legal counsel from professionals like Thomas & Ahnell, LLC. As a trusted law firm specializing in alcohol and drug-related driving offenses in Colorado, they can offer valuable insights and assistance tailored to your specific situation.

Do you have further questions or concerns? Call us or contact the attorneys at Thomas & Ahnell, LLC, and we will be happy to help.

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