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Update on Colorado Weed News ... Fall 2021 Edition

09/27/2021 Politics & Law

Back in April of 2021, legislation was proposed for new restrictions on marijuana sold legally in Colorado. There were concerns about how this would affect medical marijuana patients as well as marijuana-based companies.

Governor Jared Polis has signed HB21-1317, which contains the most sweeping changes since legalization back in 2012.

Colorado Governor Jared Polis | image courtesy of colorado.gov/governor

Under the new law, the Colorado School of Public Health will review research to determine the potential effects of THC and concentrates on the developing brain and mental health. A scientific review council will then use the report’s findings to make recommendations to the General Assembly.

Doctors Within Borders

Under the new legislation, doctors can’t make money by recommending specific marijuana products to their patients.  This is a positive development. Several years ago, medical marijuana was in a “wild west” phase in Colorado. You could see a medical marijuana doctor and claim just about any health condition to be referred for treatment. It was apparent that some doctors made a lot of money through this type of business.

Medical marijuana doctors can no longer monetize their recommendations.

The new law seeks to remove some of the financial incentives for doctors in recommending different marijuana treatment options.  Colorado doctors will now need to do a full assessment of the patient’s medical history and review the records of the doctor who made the diagnosis. Then, the doctor will need to send a certification to the Department of Public Health and Environment, with recommendations for specific medical marijuana products and their strength and quantity.

Other New Standards

Under the legislation, new standards are set for doctor-patient relationships. Doctors will now perform mental health checks on patients to determine whether medical marijuana treatment is appropriate. Suppose the medical marijuana doctor isn’t the patient’s primary doctor. In that case, they must obtain health records from their primary doctor or licensed mental health practitioner.

Younger patients will need to get recommendations from two doctors to obtain medical marijuana, and limits will be set on the amount of concentrates allowed. Young patients will also need to get check-ups every six months.

The new law will also strengthen the systems for tracking cannabis and enforcement of purchases.

Purchase Limits for Concentrates

There’s a prominent theme running through the new legislation – tighter control over concentrates.  One key aspect of the law says medical marijuana patients can purchase up to eight grams of cannabis concentrate per day. However, those patients aged 18-20 can only buy two grams per day. The previous limit was 40 grams.

Concentrates are as much as two times more potent than unconcentrated marijuana applications. So eight grams is more than enough for casual users. But some patients have more serious medical issues or higher pain levels and require a greater quantity of concentrates.

For patients who live far away from their medical dispensary, this creates a problem. Making a trip every week can be a daunting prospect, especially for those dealing with serious medical issues and extreme pain (not to mention the insane weather Colorado gets at times!). And with all of these logistical challenges, there’s the face that one-third of Colorado counties currently have no medical dispensary.

The law does provide an exemption for the daily limit for those who can prove physical or geographic hardship, people who got their medical card before they turned 18, and patients whose doctors recommend high doses. There is some ambiguity in this exemption – “hardship” is not defined and will need to be when the rules are made to actually put the law in place.  There is already a lot of concern about how implementation could affect those with invisible disabilities. It can be a struggle to find doctors who recognize these conditions, not to mention proving what the hidden disability is since this is a very gray area to begin with. Providing proof to a governmental body will add another layer of difficulty.

New Standards for Cannabis Dispensaries

Medical marijuana dispensaries will need to provide a “tangible educational resource” near where patients check out with information about responsible use, potential side effects and other marijuana-related information. What exactly will be in this information will be decided during the rulemaking phase of putting the law in place.

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Packaging will now need to have THC warnings. In addition, dispensaries must begin to track seed-to-sale information.

New rules will be created for dispensaries to show reasonable serving sizes of concentrates. However, these products have great variety in how they’re made and the potency level, so standardized sizing will be tricky. It’s also concerning that tolerance levels vary widely. A serving that suits a casual user might be unsuitable for some patients with serious health conditions.

At the Buddy Boy Brand dispensaries not only are our budtenders highly-educated on all-things medical and recreational marijuana, we also carry a wide variety of literature for our patients and customers.  We’ll also be updating any literature in accordance with this – and any new – regulations.

Not-So-Hidden Flaws

There are obvious inconsistencies in the new legislation.  But this is expected since there is really no play book for long-term legalization’s effect on a state or community.  Colorado is actually writing the book!  Still there are some flaws …

Some medical marijuana patients (cancer, hospice, other extreme cases) need more medical marijuana daily than the limits set by the new law.  While it is good that concentrate limits have been set for younger people and those with less serious medical conditions, it is still a hardship for those with cancer or chronic pain.  It will also be difficult for dispensaries to know exactly how much marijuana content is in each gram, and each patient has a different tolerance level.

The legislation is complex, and there are many unknowns that need to be solved as lawmakers draft the rules for its implementation. As a result, medical marijuana patients and dispensaries may find the coming times challenging, but the hope is that consumers will feel more protected and informed.

As always, Buddy Boy Brands will stay on top of the latest news and developments with marijuana in Colorado.  We are here to make medical and recreational marijuana accessible and safe for those Coloradoans who seek the benefits of cannabis.

Stay tuned for more updates about Colorado marijuana news and studies!

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