A bipartisan bill to more strictly regulate high-potency marijuana products debuted Friday in the Colorado House after months of workshopping.
The bill, HB21-1317, proposes:
- A new analysis of existing research “related to the physical and mental health effects of high-potency THC marijuana and concentrates,” conducted by the Colorado School of Public Health, and designed to inform policy recommendations for possible new restrictions approved in the coming years by the legislature.
- Start a new statewide tracking system to ensure that medical marijuana patients do not “dispensary hop” and buy their maximum allowed purchase amounts at multiple sites in the same day; limit concentrate purchases for medical and recreational customers to 8 grams per day (down from current 40 grams).
- Medical and recreational dispensaries would have to portion grams of concentrate in 10-dose packages.
- Doctors who recommend medical marijuana must conduct a full assessment of their patients’ mental health history in addition to their physical health history.
- The youngest medical marijuana patients 18, 19 and 20-year-olds would receive medical cards only after consulting two different doctors who after in-person visits diagnose them “as having a debilitating or disabling medical condition.”
- County coroners have to conduct toxicology screenings on anyone 24 and younger who dies by suicide, overdose or in an accident and then report that data to the state.
Notably absent from the bill is any cap on potency levels allowed in legally sold products.
When Thornton Democratic state Rep. Yadira Caraveo initially pitched this bill earlier this year she had asked that all products be capped at 15% THC content — far below the level of concentrates, which can range into the nineties, and below even many run-of-the-mill strains of flower sold in dispensaries. She and House Speaker Alec Garnett, her co-sponsor on this bill, say the state can reevaluate potency caps later, depending on what the bill’s required independent analysis finds out.
Garnett led the negotiations that produced this bill and said he’s optimistic he’ll have a broad coalition, though industry representatives are expected to seek some amendments. Garnett said he’s motivated in part by anecdotes of “full-blown mental health crises” among young people.
Two marijuana trade groups, Colorado Leads and Marijuana Industry Group, issued a joint statement pledging to “continue to work actively with patients, doctors, other stakeholders, and lawmakers to ensure patients have access to their constitutionally protected medicine, while avoiding the unintended consequence of stifling our currently successful and growing industry.”
In tandem with this bill, Garnett has had talks on a possible ballot measure, referred by the legislature, that would raise taxes on marijuana products. He’s discussed combining it with an existing November ballot initiative seeking an additional tax on all recreational marijuana products in order to fund after-school programming for low-income children. The marijuana regulation bill has bipartisan sponsorship and could receive its first committee hearing as soon as Tuesday.