DENVER (KDVR) — Medical marijuana is back in the spotlight over at the state Capitol.
Sponsors are pushing a bill that would roll back some restrictions implemented just last year, drawing controversy and some support as well.
The new bill looks at changing regulations when it comes to how patients get medical marijuana and how much they can get at once. People have different ideas about what’s best for the state.
“Colorado’s medical cannabis program no longer meets the needs of patients. They’ve over-regulated it to the point where over 14,000 patients have lost access and our community is in crisis right now,” said Bridget Seritt, Advocates for Compassionate Therapy (ACT) Now.
Back in 2021, lawmakers passed a bill regarding THC potency. The new law limits the amount of medical marijuana concentrate a patient can buy at once to eight grams per day for people 21 and over. Medical marijuana patients like Seritt said the limits imposed in the law have left patients with no answers for their conditions.
“We’ve got parents now who are risking child protective services because cannabis is the only therapy their child responds to but they can’t afford the card because it’s a thousand dollars now or they can’t travel six hours to get to Denver or Boulder to get a recommendation. The program is not functional for those who need it,” Seritt said.
Under the current law, doctors have to submit documentation specifying the patient has a debilitating illness that could benefit from medical cannabis use. And on top of the limits it put in place for people over 21, it also limits the amount people between 18 and 20 can purchase to 2 grams, something opponents said helps keep the items away from children.
“When it comes to youth, which this bill is really targeting, in saying you know, youth don’t need to actually have a real relationship with their provider, they can instead do a virtual visit instead of having to meet with doctors in-person for example, those are dangerous things because we need to protect our youth, particularly when we are giving them medications that have addictive potentials. That’s just common sense, we need to treat this like medicine,” said Luke Niforatos, Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) Executive Vice President.
Supporters of the bill said bringing back the remote access to doctors for medical marijuana that was utilized during the pandemic would be major for patients who have trouble getting to doctors in person. Opponents feel this measure is not about access for patients.
“We’ve seen across-the-board medical and recreational marijuana sales go way down. And I think a lot of that is because of the pandemic and really there was a lot of addiction and increase in use during the pandemic and now I think it’s starting to go back to more normal usage levels. But I think the industry, obviously, their incentive is they want to be able to get their products out there as widely and freely as possible. And their interest is for profit. Our interest as a legislature and as a community needs to be for the health and safety of patients,” Niforatos said.
The bill has been introduced but sponsors were not ready to talk about it yet, saying they would like to make more progress on it first. Supporters fear more users and parents will turn to the black market if the measure does not pass this session.