Colorado: Governor Signs Law Imposing New Rules for Physicians Recommending Medical Cannabis, Young Adult Patients

Democratic Gov. Jared Polis has signed legislation, HB 1317, into law imposing new rules and restrictions upon physicians who recommend medical cannabis as well as their patients.

Beginning on January 1, 2022, recommending physicians will be required to provide specific cannabis dosing regimens for their patients, a requirement that some legal experts speculate may place doctors in conflict with federal laws. No other state requires medical professional to provide patients with explicit cannabis treatment plans, and many have expressed hesitancy about counseling patients in this manner.

It also requires health care providers to conduct an assessment of patients’ “mental health history,” even in cases where patients have no pre-existing or underlying mental health issues.

For those patients ages 18 to 20 seeking a first-time recommendation, the bill requires “two physicians from two different medical practices … to diagnose the patient as having a debilitating or disabling medical condition after an in-person consultation.”

It also limits the amount of medical marijuana concentrates that a patient may legally purchase in one day to 8 grams for adults or 2 grams for those ages 18 to 20. In order to ensure compliance with these new daily limits, the state will establish and institute a new tracking system to monitor medical cannabis purchases. These changes on purchase limits also go into effect on January 1.

The law also appropriates funding for the Colorado School of Public Health to study and issue recommendations on the health effects of so-called “high potency THC” products. What specifically constitutes such a product is not defined by the law. By July 1, 2022, researchers are mandated to make legislative recommendations regarding the regulation of these products. However, those recommendations “must not include additional criminal penalties related to marijuana concentrate use [or] possession … or new crimes related to marijuana concentrate use [or] possession.”

The measure, which NORML opposed, was backed by a number of anti-cannabis organizations, including those publicly opposed to the use of herbal cannabis as a therapeutic treatment in all situations.