Colorado: Senate Lawmakers Advance Measure Amending State’s Medical Cannabis Access Law

Members of the Colorado Senate have approved legislation, House Bill 1317, which seeks to amend the state’s long-standing medical cannabis access program.

The measure makes numerous changes to the state’s medical program — several of which may hamper patients’ access to medical cannabis products.

Changes imposed by the bill include: 

  • Requiring authorizing physicians to provide dosing guidelines specific to the types of cannabis products that their patients may consume, the maximum potency of those products, and the daily authorized allowance of those products. No other state requires physicians to provide such explicit dosing regimens.
  • Requiring authorizing physicians to take Continuing Medical Education classes on the subject of cannabis every two years.
  • Requiring authorizing physicians to perform an assessment of the patients’ mental health history and/or a review of the patients’ mental health records prior to making a medical cannabis recommendation.
  • Requiring patients between the ages of 18 to 20 to receive recommendations from “two physicians from two separate medical practices” prior to obtaining medical cannabis. The measure further requires that these patients attend follow-up appointments with at least one recommending physician every six-months thereafter. 

House Bill 1317 also imposes changes on the production and distribution of cannabis concentrates. It limits (in most instances) the amount of medical marijuana concentrate that a patient may legally purchase in one day to 8 grams for adults or 2 grams for those ages 18 to 20. It also mandates the state to impose new serving-size and labeling requirements for cannabis concentrates by January 1, 2023.

The measure also establishes a study group to review literature pertaining to the “possible physical and mental health effects of high-potency THC” products and make recommendations to the legislature by July 1, 2022. However, an amendment to the bill mandates that these recommendations “must not include additional criminal penalties” related to their use or possession. 

NORML testified against the adoption of HB 1317. You can read our testimony and concerns here. The bill has primarily been championed by organizations who oppose the legalization of medical cannabis and/or adult-use legalization.

House Bill 1317 now returns to the House for a concurrence vote before advancing to the Governor’s desk. 

Commenting on the measure, NORML State Policies Manager Carly Wolf said: “This bill is a cynical effort to roll back policies that have been in place for two decades and that a majority of patients support. House Bill 1317 places additional and unnecessary hurdles upon recommending physicians as well as upon young adult patients and their families. Furthermore, some of the advocacy groups championing this measure are not acting in good faith – as they have publicly stated that their ultimate goal is to roll back legal access altogether, in Colorado and in other states.”