On the night of June 24th 2021, Jared Polis, the Governor of Colorado signed the very controversial bill
HB 1317 into law. HB 1317 is designed to prevent cannabis users under the age of 18 from illegally obtaining medical cannabis from legal patients that are under the age of 21.
The New Law
HB 1317 will go into effect on Jan 1. 2022. While it primarily focuses on changes to the medical cannabis industry, the cost increase of meeting the new requirements will be felt across the entire industry, including both medical and recreational. This will drastically alter the medical cannabis industry in Colorado.
A few of the changes within HB 1317 will be:
- A requirement of additional information from a recommending physician such as specific cannabis doses.
- A requirement that the provider is supplied with the recommended dosage. (No other states have requirements like this)
- A mental health evaluation and mental health history by a physician prior to recommending cannabis for a patient.
- Two recommendations from different physicians located in separate practices for patients under age 21.
- Strict limits on the amount a patient may purchase at one time.
HB 1317 also appropriates funding from the Colorado School of Public Health to study high potency cannabis products and their health effects.
I was able to watch most of the legislative sessions regarding this bill on Zoom. There were dozens of speakers, both pro and against HB 1317. From their perspective, both sides presented passionate arguments with results from their research and experiences.
Despite people being well informed on both sides of the debate, the shareholders were given very little time to prepare to argue against the bill. It was pushed through and signed by the Governor in barely a month from the time the public was made aware of HB 1317 and its impact.
During the first house session, several people made statements that they would sue if the original bill was adopted. This caused the original bill to be amended multiple times before Polis signed it.
Within a week of signing the bill, at least one lawsuit was filed regarding the interest of patients.
Several others are rumored to be coming in the near future. The legislature can not be sued, so Governor Polis has been named as the defendant in the lawsuit as of now.
This lawsuit stands out as it comes barely over a month after Governor Polis signed SB21-056 which expanded access in all schools from pre-k – high school in Colorado, for medical cannabis patients under the age of 20. The plaintiff suing Governor Polis is a young man that Polis helped obtain additional access to his medication while in school by signing SB21-056
Needless to say, there are many issues with this bill. Over the next few months, the courts will decide if it goes into effect on Jan. 1st, 2022, or, if things go back to normal. If the courts strike down the bill as unconstitutional, the proponents of additional legislative cannabis action have to go back to the drawing board; and start a new legislative proposal to better meet their goals without putting legal patients at risk.
Until then, the medical cannabis industry is getting themselves ready for the changes and the rest of Colorado cannabis users are feeling mighty grateful for recreational.