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A bill floating around in Colorado legislation would doom the state’s marijuana industry if passed. And while the chances of this bill being passed are slim – it hasn’t even been introduced – its very existence could signal the beginning of a battle over the effectiveness of commercial pot products.
The bill, drafted by state representative Yadira Caraveo, would ban any form of legal marijuana, recreational or medical marijuana, and test more than 15 percent THC. It also calls for a number of restrictions on the state’s medical marijuana program, including a requirement that medical marijuana patients can only purchase a pre-determined dosage and allocation of certain products set by a doctor, similar to a prescription drug .
Caraveo’s bill proposes limiting the effectiveness of food and banning all roadside marijuana signage, as well as banning the hiring of social media influencers who “target minors to market their business”.
Some parts of the bill are flat-rate, others just confusing. One line calls for a ban on marijuana concentrate, which contains “a known human carcinogen,” but all forms of marijuana smoke contain carcinogens. Another provision would prohibit the sale of marijuana suppositories, medicinal or recreational suppositories, as well as flavored vaporizer products, inhalers and other pot products.
While the entire bill holds the marijuana industry in its arms, Jason Warf, director of the Southern Colorado Cannabis Council, a lobby group that represents both patients and members of the industry, is particularly concerned about the proposed tracking system for medical marijuana patients and their families Purchases. This raises questions of legal privacy.
“Nothing is curable,” in the language of the bill, Warf says, adding that he believes some of its restrictions may be unconstitutional as the state’s medical marijuana program and the legalization of recreational activities were both enacted by constitutional amendments.
“The potency measure would affect both of them [medical and recreational marijuana] Industry sectors. In my eyes, I would see that it is almost impossible to deliver anything other than flowers by these rules, and even with flowers it would be extremely difficult these days, “he adds.
Marijuana industry officials and medical marijuana advocates don’t expect the bill, as it was written, to pass a House committee hearing, let alone pass Colorado law. Responsible for more than $ 2 billion in sales in 2020 and nearly $ 1.6 billion in tax revenue as of 2014, the marijuana industry is more regulated and anchored in Colorado than any other state. And even if that move were successful, Governor Jared Polis, a proponent of the marijuana industry in both Congress and the governor’s office, could veto at any time. So why try?
Although Caraveo’s office has not responded to requests for comment on the proposed bill, it has in the past raised concerns about marijuana use, particularly among children and medical patients. As a Democrat and a pediatrician, Caraveo initially voted against a proposal to add autism to the state’s medical marijuana disease list, citing the need for greater medical approval if child patients were to qualify – though she eventually voted for the bill after a change has been added which exactly requires that.
“It’s something that has been legal here for a while, both medically and recreationally, and something that our party as a Democrat has basically been very supportive of. But I think I have a completely different perspective on legalization and that Expanding on Use it for Disease because I’m looking at it from a pediatrician’s perspective and how it affects children, and so I cast a few votes against the rest of my caucus because I’m just looking at it through the lens of like it will affect children, “Caraveo said in a 2019 interview.
Warf and several other marijuana industry representatives believe larger anti-marijuana groups are behind Caraveo’s proposal and are using Colorado state policies as a first step to control the expansion of legalized marijuana across the country.
“What we’ve seen here is that they like to use Colorado as a testing ground, like a stepping stone to get traction even when it’s going nowhere. But we’ll see they try to bring this to other markets. “Threw argued.
Since voters in Colorado and Washington legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, thirteen more states and Washington, DC, have joined them, and prohibitionists have changed their strategy. Groups like Smart Approaches to Marijuana and Smart Colorado are no longer spending their time and resources fighting legalization and are now pursuing industry guard rails in the name of youth prevention.
Both groups are mum on possible legislative efforts in Colorado, but they and similar groups have found willing ears elsewhere. Vermont’s Recreational Marijuana Legalization Act included a provision limiting THC potency in flower to 30 percent and concentrates to 60 percent. And Caraveo may not be the only Colorado lawmaker considering the potency legislation. According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the use of highly potent marijuana products among teenagers increased significantly from 2017 to 2019, and more than doubled since 2015. The effectiveness of marijuana has also increased dramatically over the past few decades. With marijuana flowers that routinely test over 20 percent THC and concentrates that now hit over 90 percent.
A measure proposing a potency limit failed in Colorado law in 2016, while an initiative proposing a potency limit was not voted in that same year. In 2019, a proposed change to the potency of a bill to revise the rules on commercial marijuana didn’t have enough support to go to the vote. However, according to former rep Jonathan Singer, there was “no bill mumbling” at the Colorado Capitol last year and the pot industry has braced itself for a possible push for a potency cap.
For Jordan Wellington, a marijuana attorney who specializes in guidelines for Denver firm Vicente Sederberg, cutting out the majority of now legal marijuana products means “using a sledgehammer on a scalpel-worthy problem,” he warns he could send marijuana users to the black market for marijuana concentrates, which typically require dangerous forms of extraction with butane, ethanol, or other solvents.
“If there is evidence that efforts to prevent teenage use are falling short, let’s work together to address this issue through public education and treatment. We should discuss enforcement of existing regulations and criminal law as it is for Minors are already illegal to possess marijuana – outside of a real doctor-patient relationship – and cannabis companies are already subject to extensive youth protection regulations, “Wellington says. “The ban on a wide range of cannabis products consumed by adults in Colorado is not only likely to be unconstitutional, but will also result in a massive expansion of the state’s underground cannabis market.”
Proponents of the industry fear that such an aggressive proposal could be the opening game in a negotiation process between anti-marijuana groups and lawmakers, which could result in a tamer, but still restrictive, version that looks tastier by the time a House committee is reached.
“In the current draft we’ve seen, we don’t have a compromised position, and I don’t think my colleagues and colleagues do either,” says Warf. “And it’s utterly unique that all of the marijuana lobbyists and representatives are on something on the same page.”
Here is a draft of the bill received from Westword:
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Thomas Mitchell has been writing about everything cannabis-related for Westword since 2014, covering sports, real estate, and general news en route to publications like the Republic of Arizona, Inman, and Fox Sports. He is currently the cannabis editor for westword.com.