Monday, August 15, 2022

Colorado’s medical marijuana laws will be stricter starting January 1. Here’s how to do it.

Colorado is enacting stricter rules for purchasing medical marijuana starting January 1 after months of discussions on how to implement new state law that is largely designed to restrict young people’s access to and abuse of high-THC foods.

Mark Ferrandino, executive director of the state revenue department and former speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives, announced the rules late Tuesday night. He had the final say, but received significant input from government marijuana officials and a target group that included parents, health professionals and the marijuana industry. This task force was formed under a new law passed this year, HB21-1317, which represents the most significant overhaul of state marijuana regulations since legalizing entertainment in 2012.

In the process of passing this bill, legislatures heard parenting stories about the dramatic effects certain marijuana products had on their children. Parents talked about psychosis, suicidal thoughts and incessant vomiting, among other things, and by the time the legislature was due to vote on the bill, nearly all of its members – 93 out of 100 – were convinced of the need to tighten the law.

Of particular concern to the legislature are products such as wax and crumbs, which, unlike traditional marijuana flowers, are concentrated products produced in laboratories containing a much higher percentage of THC – the main psychoactive compound in cannabis – than even the most potent flower. …

The new rules, which in a limited number of cases also affect buyers of recreational services, include:

Daily purchase limits

The state will limit daily purchases to two ounces of flowers and eight grams of concentrate, such as wax and crumbs, for medical marijuana patients. The concentrate limit is reduced to two grams per day for medical patients between the ages of 18 and 20. The previous daily purchase limit for the concentrate for medical patients was 40 grams.

Dispensaries must enforce daily purchase limits by entering patient ID numbers on medical marijuana cards. Stores should refuse to sell to anyone seeking to exceed their purchase limit. All data collected must be kept confidential.

Exceptions

Exceptions to the new limits only apply to a patient whose physician confirms in writing that the patient has physical or geographic difficulties that should allow him to exceed the daily shopping limits and that the patient has designated the store as the primary location where they receive their medicine.

Examples of how people may qualify for hardship include: limited mobility as a result of a debilitating condition, lack of access to a driver’s license due to a debilitating condition, or lack of access to public transport or car-sharing services due to a debilitating condition. … Exceptions may also apply to people who live outside the densely populated counties of Adams, Arapaho, Boulder, Denver, Douglas, El Paso, Jefferson, Larimer, or Pueblo and who also cannot access medical marijuana (or their preferred medical marijuana concentrate) in their home district.

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Public education

An educational resource in the form of an 8 × 11 paper brochure should be provided to clients (medical and recreational) at the point of sale of the concentrate. In this brochure, there will be a black dot that is smaller than your fingernail, indicating the state’s recommended serving size for concentrates. It will also provide advice on how to consume safely and a list of negative conditions the government claims can result from using marijuana concentrate, including psychotic symptoms, “uncontrolled and repeated vomiting” and “physical and psychological dependence.” The brochure will list various hotline numbers for people facing any of these problems.

Advertising

Medical marijuana dispensaries are specifically prohibited from marketing to people under the age of 21. This is a change from the previous ban on advertising to people under the age of 18. The state considers it a violation if advertisements appear in media outlets that are estimated to have at least 28.4% of audiences under the age of 21. Advertising materials, medical and recreational facilities must use government-approved language to warn of the risks of overconsumption.

A spokeswoman said Ferrandino was not available Thursday to discuss the new rules.

The law that led to these rules also directs the Colorado School of Public Health to review existing research “related to the physical and mental health effects of high potency marijuana and THC concentrates,” and the results could influence future policy decisions at the Capitol.

Denver Democrat Alec Garnett, current House Speaker and main sponsor of the bill that led to the rules, said he is confident in Ferrandino’s decisions and that he is not planning any new marijuana laws in the 2022 session starting in January, days … after the entry into force of the new rules.

“I guess this is a quieter session on this topic,” Garnett said.

Last session was not like that at all. HB21-1317 was the product of months of meetings and received widespread bipartisan support from the legislature, as well as dire warnings from medical marijuana patients and advocates worried about limited access to drugs.

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Some of those concerns remain, Truman Bradley, chief executive of the Marijuana Industry Group, said at a hearing earlier this month when the rules were finally agreed.

“I have some concerns that when these rules go into effect on January 1, there will be a whole group of medical patients who will find themselves in such a gray area where they are not sure what they can legally buy,” he said. “Remember. “We’re talking about medicine here. It’s really important and I don’t want them to be left behind.”

But Bradley said Thursday that it is too early to tell if patients will experience such confusion. He said he hopes other lawmakers will join Garnett in waiving further legislation this year to give time to “fully implement and understand the impact of these rules.”

Although the new rules apply to recreational marijuana, namely an educational brochure, the rules for non-medical consumers do not really change. Recreational users can still buy up to one ounce of flowers a day or up to eight grams of concentrate.

The recreational purchase age remains 21, while people over 18 can apply for a health card. The lower age for medical patients, coupled with (formerly) much higher daily concentrate purchase limits for this group, is a major reason why legislators are so focused on the medical side of the industry.

Nation World News Desk
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