Today, the first-ever regulatory overhaul of Colorado’s federally illegal marijuana industry was introduced as a bill in the Colorado State Assembly. The bill seeks to implement much-needed public health guardrails and promote public health, reigning in a marijuana industry that has been allowed to run free.
The bill, being led by House Speaker Alec Garnett and Representative Yadira Caraveo — the only member of the Colorado legislature to also be a medical doctor would establish a scientific review council to conduct a thorough analysis of the research related to the physical and mental health effects related to the use of high potency marijuana and concentrates. The council would then use the results of this in-depth review to make recommendations to the legislature on further regulations such as a potency cap and implement a public education campaign regarding the findings.
“For too long, this industry has been allowed to run roughshod over our kids and public health with no accountability. This bill is a breath of fresh air for families across Colorado and the result of years of work from advocates and public health and safety experts who have been warning against allowing the laissez-faire approach to the marijuana industry to continue,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) and a former senior drug policy advisor to the Obama Administration. “The science is clear: high potency marijuana is dangerous. We applaud Dawn Reinfeld and her organization, Blue Rising, for their outstanding effort this year and hope to see this bill passed into law as soon as possible.”
SAM Board Member, Ben Cort, will be testifying in support of the bill during a hearing before the Colorado House Public & Behavioral Health & Human Services Committee.
In addition to setting up a council to study and make recommendations on high potency marijuana, the bill also requires reports to be compiled from emergency room and hospital discharge data of patients with marijuana-related admissions and hospitalizations. It also requires coroners to conduct a toxicology screen in each case of suicide, overdose, or accidental death. This data will be submitted to the violent death reporting system and an annual report will be produced beginning in January of 2022.
Furthermore, the bill limits the amount of marijuana concentrate that can be purchased in one day to eight (8) grams, with requirements that packaging contains one (1) gram to be separated into 10 portioned amounts. Any advertising on concentrated products must include a warning regarding the risks of overconsumption of concentrates.
The bill also makes several changes to the state’s “medical” marijuana program:
- It prohibits medical marijuana advertising directed to those aged 18-20 and requires medical and retail marijuana concentrate advertising to include a warning regarding the risks of “medical” marijuana concentrate overconsumption
- Limits the amount of “medical” marijuana concentrate that can be purchased in one day to eight (8) grams. If the person is 18-20, this is limited to two (2) grams (with exceptions)
The bill imposes the following requirements on “medical” marijuana patients ages 18 to 20 years old:
- Two physicians from different medical practices have to diagnose the patient as having a debilitating or disabling medical condition after an in-person consultation
- One of the physicians must explain the possible risks and benefits of the “medical” use of marijuana to the patient
- One physician must provide the patient with the written documentation specifying that the patient has been diagnosed with a debilitating or disabling medical condition and the physician has concluded that the patient might benefit from the “medical” use of marijuana
- The patient attends follow-up appointments every six (6) months with one of the physicians