BY FREDA MIKLIN – GOVERNMENTAL REPORTER
After all 35 members of the Colorado state senate voted to approve HB21-1317, Regulating Marijuana Concentrates, on June 3, they sent it back to the state House, where, on June 8, all 65 members concurred, resulting in a unanimous vote. What is even more unusual is that the bill was not introduced until May 14. Prime bipartisan sponsors of the legislation were Speaker of the House Alec Garnett from Denver, Adams County Rep. Dr. Yadira Caraveo, a pediatrician, Denver and Arapahoe County Sen. Chris Hansen, and El Paso County Sen. Paul Lundeen.
In Colorado, only those over the age of 21 can purchase recreational marijuana, but one can be only 18 to get a prescription from a doctor for medical marijuana. This new law limits the amount of concentrated medical marijuana a patient can purchase to two grams per day if the patient is between the ages of 18 and 20, under normal circumstances. It also limits the amount of concentrated marijuana that can be purchased in a day to eight grams for those aged 21 and over, whether the purchase is medical or recreational.
What is arguably even more important about the law is that it “requires the Colorado school of public health to do a systematic review of the scientific research related to the possible physical and mental health effects of high-potency THC marijuana and concentrates. The bill creates a scientific review council to review the report and make recommendations to the general assembly. Based on the research and findings, the Colorado school of public health shall produce a public education campaign for the general public, to be approved by the council, regarding the effect of high-potency THC marijuana on the developing brain and mental health.”
Other new requirements include a significant expansion of the medical assessment required, including their mental health history, before a physician recommends medical marijuana for a patient. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) will now report annually on the number of physicians who made medical marijuana recommendations in the past year and how many recommendations each physician made. For a person between the ages of 18 and 20, it will take two physicians from separate medical practices to agree that medical marijuana is required to treat a “debilitating or disabling medical condition,” after each of the doctors conducts an “in-person consultation” with the patient.
Also new is a requirement that hospitals keep records of patients who present with conditions that reflect marijuana use and coroners look for the presence and quantity of the active agent in marijuana in non-natural deaths. That information must be reported marijuana to CDPHE or the legislature.
One of the leading coalition partners who brought the idea for this law to the general assembly was One Chance to Grow Up, an initiative of Smart Colorado, founded by financial executive Doug Robinson, a 2019 candidate for Colorado governor, Diane Carlson, who has served on the statewide Marijuana Education Committee for the past six years, Henny Lasley, its executive director, who serves on the stakeholder group focused on rulemaking for labeling and warming statements of marijuana products, Rachel O-Brian, its strategic projects director, and Gina Carbone.
The mission of One Chance to Grow Up is “to keep kids safe from all the dangers of marijuana commercialization… As an initiative of Smart Colorado, we’ve been vigilant about the effects of THC on kids from the first days of legalization. We don’t take sides on the politics of legalization but instead serve as a reliable resource for parents, media, policymakers and all those who care about kids. Started by concerned parents, we are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit supported by charitable contributions.”
Said Lasley, upon the passage of the new law, “It made such a strong statement that 50 Colorado organizations rallied together to support this important legislation to protect kids. Courageous legislators helped build broad, bipartisan support in the Colorado General Assembly. This pioneering bill creates a model for the nation, helping to close a loophole that allows teens to get medical marijuana, which then ends up in our schools. It also gives the green light to comprehensive research on the new ultrahigh-THC marijuana products so we can fully assess their health impacts.”