Colorado Invoice Solidifies Medical Marijuana Telemedicine, On-line Pharmacy Funds

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Telemedicine for medical marijuana patients and online ordering of legal cannabis have been allowed in Colorado for over a year, but on a temporary basis.

Scott Lentz

After nearly disappearing during a long debate about the effectiveness of legal marijuana products, a bill to consolidate medical marijuana and pharmacy practices, introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic, survived an early vote on a legislative committee.

Both telemedicine for medical marijuana patients and online ordering of legal cannabis have been allowed in Colorado for over a year, thanks to orders issued by Governor Jared Polis in March 2020. These orders will eventually end, but MP Matt Gray’s House Bill 1058 suggests making the practices permanent. Nevertheless, the measure has to climb a long hill.

Gray’s bill, enacted nearly three months ago, could still get caught up in an ongoing debate about the THC levels in commercial marijuana concentrates. While a draft measure to limit the potency of Westword was leaked at the beginning of the session, no such bill was tabled. Now there are rumors of a compromise in the form of restrictions on concentrate packaging and required suicide toxicology reporting on marijuana use, as well as a possible nationwide system that would track the amount of marijuana a person purchases. (In Colorado, adults 21 and older can only buy 1 ounce of marijuana per day; medical marijuana patients can buy 2 ounces.)

“I think there will be more discussion about this soon,” said Gray of possible proposals to tighten marijuana regulations.

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And while no such proposals were known, the issue of potency was raised in the discussion of HB 1058 during a meeting of the House Business and Working Committee on May 13th.

“This bill has nothing to do with potency, although people on this committee have talked about it a lot,” Gray said before his 8-5 bill was passed. “There are many aspects of this pandemic that we want to leave behind, but I don’t think those two comforts are things we’re ready for.” [give up]. ”

Widely accepted for medical consultations in Colorado, state law still bans telemedicine from medical marijuana visits. Polis’ executive order was intended to help at-risk patients – some of whom testified during the committee’s hearing – during the pandemic, but it also benefited families with child patients, according to several mothers of autistic children advocating the law.

“If you’ve ever tried getting an autistic child into a car to get to an appointment that is out of their routine, you know how difficult it is to use medical marijuana oil to aid with aggression and cognitive function. Since switching to telemedicine, Brooks says, her son has been more in touch with his doctors from the comfort of his home.

Medical marijuana doctor Joseph Cohen told state officials that the inclusion of telemedicine benefited the majority of his patients and strengthened the doctor-patient relationship. “You are in a very relaxed environment,” he said. “I can talk to them while they’re relaxed and we can talk about so much more.”

A handful of mothers, doctors and addiction specialists testified against the law but cite concerns about easier access to youth consumption. HB 1058 is also rejected by organizations such as the Colorado Medical Society, Colorado Psychiatric Society, Colorado Children’s Hospital, and Denver Health.

In Colorado, people between the ages of 18 and 20 can apply for a medical marijuana card. Groups like Blue Rising PAC and Smart Colorado fear that patients under the age of 21 are selling medical marijuana to children.

Pueblo emergency doctor Brad Roberts says he has seen more cases of psychosis, suicide attempts, and respiratory and cardiovascular diseases related to marijuana since opening recreational pharmacies in 2014. He believes that continuing telemedicine for older teenagers would exacerbate these problems. “These things have increased and have continued to increase during the pandemic,” Roberts told the committee.

Medical marijuana ratings are “closer to five minutes than an hour,” he said. “This is best served by a real, detailed physical exam.”

During the meeting, Gray introduced a change that would require 18- to 20-year-olds to obtain two medical recommendations and a medical record review before obtaining medical marijuana approval via telemedicine; Several committee members said the change made the bill more palatable and they approved the change.

The part of Gray’s bill that would allow customers to pay for marijuana orders online before picking up their in-store purchases was a little less rejected by groups opposed to MMJ telemedicine. While pre-ordering marijuana products that are later paid for at the pharmacy is legal in Colorado, paying for online orders with credit, debit, or prepaid cards is illegal. However, the Polis Executive Order made such purchases legal.

Over the past year, a handful of Colorado pharmacies rebuilt their stores to include walk-through and drive-through windows for to-go orders. Customers would still need to identify themselves and receive their items in-store when Gray’s bill goes through.

HB 1058 is now awaiting a hearing in the House Finance Committee.

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