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The Colorado Legislature is about to pass sweeping bill that would create stricter rules on medical marijuana and mandate government-funded research into the effects of potent marijuana products on mental health.
On June 3, the House Bill 1317 unanimously passed its third and final reading in the Senate, just over three weeks after it was tabled in the House of Representatives. The move will require several additional levels of log for medical marijuana recommendations – including a required THC dosage level and an advanced tracking system for patient purchases – as well as additional medical and mental health exams on patient applications; it would also introduce new packaging requirements for commercial marijuana concentrates.
Lobbies representing parents, public educators, and health care professionals have pushed for more restrictions on sales of concentrated THC products and medical marijuana to adolescents, citing government data showing that the consumption of marijuana concentrates among adolescents is by 2017 to 2019 and has more than doubled since 2015.
Daily sales limits for medical marijuana concentrate would be lowered from 40 grams to 8 grams below HB 1317, and new medical patients between the ages of 18 and 20 – a factor that the bill sponsors believe is contributing to the consumption of young people – would add additional barriers being exposed to medical marijuana card receipts and other restrictions on the amount of marijuana concentrate they can buy each day.
Under the proposal, $ 3 million would also go to the Colorado School of Public Health for an education campaign about adolescent use and THC extraction, with an additional $ 1 million a CSPH annually through fiscal 2023- ’24 – Review existing research and further studies to fund the effects of marijuana on mental health. In another $ 1.7 million project, coroners would report the results of THC toxicology screenings of suicide, overdose, and accidental death in people under 26 to the Colorado Violent Death Reporting System annually.
And all marijuana concentrate products, both medicinal and recreational, would fall under the new packaging or labeling rules created by the state’s Marijuana Enforcement Division; New labeling requirements or photo notices on packaging were introduced as possible alternatives.
The position of the recreational marijuana industry on the bill is largely neutral, now that certain changes have been approved regarding concentrate packaging and future research into the effects of THC on suicide and mental health, but the majority of the medical marijuana community The state still firmly opposes the bill, largely because of concerns about limited patient access.
Although HB 1317 has passed both houses, the move still requires another House vote to approve the changes added in the Senate – and there are many of them.
Amid a triple tug-of-war between proponents of the bill, the recreational marijuana industry, and medical marijuana patients, the law has been successfully amended 29 times; 14 of these changes came from the Senate. The majority of the changes passed so far have been to those parts of the bill that address concentrate packaging requirements, research and data collection, and future medical marijuana practices for doctors and patients.
Legislators also approved changes that changed aspects of the public announcement of the proposed research project and relaxed the mental health review requirements for potential medical marijuana patients. Another amendment to the bill would exempt children from the concentrate restriction if they had a medical marijuana card before the measure was implemented.
There is a legal argument that adding dosage and usage rules to a medical marijuana referral will result in a prescription, and doctors with a prescription must register with the Drug Enforcement Administration, which does not allow prescribing Schedule I drugs – a federal label that still applies to cannabis. A 2000 ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that doctors in states with medical marijuana have the right to recommend marijuana but not to prescribe it. A change added in the Senate specifically states that the new requirements for medical marijuana referrals will not be considered a prescription, even though the dosage requirements are still part of the bill.
The date for the vote in the House of Representatives has not yet been set.
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Thomas Mitchell has been a cannabis-related writer for Westword since 2014, covering sports, real estate, and general news for publications like the Arizona Republic, Inman, and Fox Sports. He is currently the cannabis editor for westword.com.