Colorado’s Medical Marijuana Legalization Bill Kills in Committee!
On Thursday, lawmakers quickly shot down a bill in its first committee hearing that would have increased access to medical marijuana in Colorado. One of the goals of Senate Bill 81 was to make it possible for doctors to prescribe medical marijuana to select patients via virtual telemedicine visits and to increase the daily quantity of medical marijuana concentrate a patient can purchase.
At the request of the bill’s sponsor, Senator Kevin Van Winkle, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee voted unanimously to kill the bill without hearing any testimony or discussing the bill. Van Winkle, R-Highlands Ranch, said he couldn’t settle differences with bill’s detractors and withdraw it. His intention to pursue this matter further was expressed.
“Kevin Van Winkle pledged that his administration would “continue to work hard and hopefully make progress” toward the goal of ensuring that all Americans could easily obtain the pharmaceuticals they needed. People in my district in Colorado come from all over the state, and I’ve heard from many of them that they’re having problems getting refills on medications they’ve been taking for years.
The measure sought to undo some of the restrictions placed on medical marijuana by the 2021 lawmaking act known as House Bill 21-1317. Part of this legislation included reducing the maximum allowable daily purchase of medical marijuana concentrate from 40 grams to 8 grams, or 2 grams for patients under the age of 21; requiring doctors to recommend medical marijuana only within their scopes of practice; and increasing the amount of information kept on each patient’s medical marijuana purchases.
In light of state data showing that teenage consumption of extracted marijuana products has more than doubled from 2015 to 2019, legislators in the state of Washington saw a need to intervene, and Bill 21-1317 was enacted as a result. Proponents of the law claimed that adolescents gained access to marijuana products through the illegal distribution of medical marijuana by patients aged 18 to 20.
The Senate and the House both supported SB 81, but many of the organizations that had supported HB 21-1317 opposed it, including One Chance to Grow Up. Since HB-1317 went into force at the beginning of last year, the number of registered medical marijuana patients aged 18 to 20 has dropped from roughly 3,500 to little over 1,500, according to data backed by the organization.
There is more work to be done in Colorado to restrict the availability of highly concentrated THC to young people “co-creator of One Chance to Grow Up Rachel O’Bryan noted this. Patient rights regarding the prescribing and purchasing of THC concentrates are being undermined in Senate Bill 81, and legislative action is necessary to halt this.
Colorado Psychiatric Society, Colorado Medical Society, Colorado Association of School Executives, Colorado Chapter of the College of Emergency Physicians, Children’s Hospital Colorado, and the Colorado Association of School Nurses are all opposed to the bill as well. Proponents of Bill 21-1317 said that the limits it imposes prevent bad actors from misusing the medical marijuana market.
But, opponents of the bill argued that the law also harms good actors, such as those who use medical marijuana to treat epilepsy, autism, PTSD, and other disorders. According to Benjamin Wann’s father Brad, the young man has struggled with epilepsy since he was three. Ten years in, Benjamin was having seizures every four days, and they were getting longer and longer.
Later, in 2015, after Benjamin began taking cannabis oil for medical purposes, his seizures ceased. Wann expressed concern that now that Benjamin is 21 years old, he may no longer have access to the cannabis oil he has relied on for his medicinal needs. Wann expressed his and the team’s deep sadness about the committee’s decision. We weren’t intending to dismantle and discard (House Bill) 21-1317.
Just trying to make it workable for everyday use and age-appropriate for all ages. Wann expressed concern that HB 21-1317’s daily limits will cause his son’s dosage to alter and become restrictive. Although while the monthly limitations would have remained the same, SB 81 would have reinstated the previous daily limits of 40 grams or 8 grams for individuals between the ages of 18 and 20.
Wann said that persons living in remote locations or who are housebound have a hard time getting to doctors’ offices, thus emphasizing the importance of telemedicine in the medical marijuana industry. The COVID-19 outbreak prompted Governor Jared Polis to sign an executive order temporarily enabling medical marijuana physicians to conduct appointments virtually; the order expired in 2021, and the legislature rejected a bill to make the policy permanent.
The Colorado Cross Disability Coalition, the Colorado Cannabis Manufacturers Association, and Cliintel Capital Management Group all expressed support for Senate Bill 81. Wann has stated that he will keep up the campaign for legislation to expand the availability of medical marijuana, in addition to his ongoing legal battle with Polis over Bill 21-1317.
In 2022, a district court judge in Denver ruled against the plaintiffs, although Wann claims that an appeal is already in progress. The proponents of SB 81 aren’t giving up the fight, either. Van Winkle has stated that he is in talks with Polis and the legislature to design another bill, but that “time will tell” if it will materialize this session.
Senator Sonya Jaquez Lewis (D-Longmont), the bill’s primary sponsor, has stressed the need to address patients’ lack of access to medical marijuana is not going away. Jaquez Lewis pledged to keep working to expand access for those in need.