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Tracking Colorado's Marijuana and Hemp Bills in 2021

Marijuana continues to be a hot topic of discussion at the Colorado Capitol in 2021.EXPAND
Marijuana continues to be a hot topic of discussion at the Colorado Capitol in 2021.
Jacqueline Collins
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We're less than a month into the restarted 2021 legislative session, and stories are swirling about an upcoming marijuana measure that could limit the potency of commercial pot products.

But those aren't the only potential cannabis controversies at the Capitol. We've already seen a handful of important marijuana bills introduced, including an effort to expand medical marijuana access for child patients at school, a proposal to raise the state's marijuana possession limit, tweaks to the new marijuana delivery program, and a successful bill that will set aside $4 million for social equity efforts in the pot industry.

Here's a breakdown of the eight marijuana- and hemp-related bills currently up for consideration at the Colorado General Assembly in 2021 (the summaries come from the text of the bills; they can still be amended), as well as their current status.

HB 1058: Promoting Social Distancing In Marijuana Industry

Prime sponsors: Representative Matt Gray (D-District 33), Senator Julie Gonzales (D-District 34)

Summary: Under current law, a physician is required to conduct an in-person physical examination of a person prior to certifying that the person would benefit from medical marijuana. The bill permits a physician to treat, counsel, and conduct appropriate personal physical examinations, in person or remotely via telephone or video conference, to establish a bona fide physician-patient relationship with a patient seeking a medical marijuana card.

Retail marijuana stores are now prohibited from selling retail marijuana and retail marijuana products online and to a person not physically present in the retail marijuana store's licensed premises. The bill would repeal this prohibition.

Status: Awaiting House Business Affairs & Labor Committee Hearing; no date scheduled.

HB 1090: Criminal Marijuana Offenses

Prime sponsors: Representative Alex Valdez (D-District 5)

Summary: The bill eliminates the marijuana possession offense for possession of 2 ounces of marijuana or less.

The bill requires the court to seal a conviction record, without opportunity for the district attorney to object, for a marijuana possession offense that is otherwise not sealed, if the person files documents with the court that the person has not been convicted of a criminal offense since the final disposition of all criminal proceedings or release from supervision, whichever is later.

The bill allows a person who was convicted of a Class 3 felony marijuana cultivation offense to petition to have his or her conviction record sealed.

Status: Amended bill passed House; Senate Judiciary Committee hearing scheduled for April 22.

HB 1159: Limitations on Regulated Marijuana Delivery

Prime Sponsors: Representative Marc Snyder (D-District 18)

Summary: Under current law, a retail marijuana store licensee may have a marijuana delivery permit associated with its store license. The bill requires the store to be open at least 5 days a week and at least 5 hours a day to have a delivery permit. The bill limits delivery sales to only retail marijuana, retail marijuana products, or branded merchandise that is available for sale from the retail marijuana store and requires the prices to be the same as the in-store price. The bill prohibits an online platform from holding pre-paid accounts for a licensed retail marijuana store.

The bill waives the licensing fee for a transporter applicant who is a social equity licensee.

The bill prohibits a medical or retail marijuana business operator from engaging in the delivery of regulated marijuana.

Status: House Business Affairs & Labor Committee scheduled April 8.

HB 1178: Correcting Errors in the Colorado Marijuana Code

Prime Sponsors: Representative Andres Pico (R-District 16), Representative Donald Valdez (D-District 62), Senator Rob Woodward (R-District 15), Senator Rachel Zenzinger (D-District 19)

Summary: The bill corrects citations in the marijuana code and grammatical and wording issues.

Status: Passed House unamended; assigned to Senate Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee.

HB 1204: Unemployment Insurance Marijuana-licensed Business

Prime Sponsors: Representative Marc Snyder (D-District 18), Senator Chris Holbert (R-District 30), Senator Joann Ginal (D-District 14)

Summary: Current law states that a common paymaster is not a single employing unit for purposes of considering the services performed by another employing unit subject to a single or common payroll. The bill creates an exception for an employee leasing company or other employing entity that is owned by one or more persons who have a medical or retail marijuana license and who own at least 50% of an entity that shares the employee leasing company's or other employing entity's services. The employee leasing company or other employing entity is not considered a common paymaster for the purposes of the "Colorado Employment Security Act".

Status: Passed House unamended; assigned to Senate Business, Labor, & Technology Committee.

HB 1216: Marijuana Licensees Ability to Change Designation

Prime Sponsors: Representative Alex Valdez (D-District 5), Representative Kevin Van Winkle (R-District 43), Senator Julie Gonzales (D-District 34)

Summary: The bill allows a medical marijuana cultivation facility licensee to receive and change marijuana's designation from retail to medical and a marijuana products manufacturer licensee to receive and change a marijuana product from retail to medical.

The bill clarifies that a transfer and change of designation of the marijuana from retail to medical does not create a right to a refund of a retail marijuana excise tax imposed or paid prior to the transfer and change of designation.

Status: House floor work April 5.

SB 56: Expand Cannabis-based Medicine at Schools

Prime sponsors: Senator Chris Holbert (R-District 30), Senator Julie Gonzales (D-District 34), Representative Kevin Van Winkle (R-District 43), Representative Matt Gray (D-District 33)

Summary: Under current law, school districts must permit primary caregivers to possess and administer cannabis-based medicine on school grounds, and school principals are given the discretion to permit the storage, possession, and administration of cannabis-based medicine on school grounds by school personnel. The bill removes the discretion from the school principals and requires school boards to implement policies allowing for the storage, possession, and administration of cannabis-based medicine by school personnel. The bill allows school personnel to volunteer to possess, administer, or assist in administration of cannabis-based medicine and protects those who do from retaliation. The bill imposes a duty on school principals to create a written treatment plan for the administration of cannabis-based medicine and on school boards to adopt policies regarding actual administration.

The bill provides disciplinary protection to nurses who administer cannabis-based medicine to students at school. The bill requires schools to treat cannabis-based medicine recommendations like prescriptions.

Status: Amended bill passed Senate; awaiting House Appropriations Committee hearing.

SB 111: Program to Support Marijuana Entrepreneurs

Prime sponsors: Senator Dominick Moreno (D-District 21), Senator Julie Gonzales (D-District 34), Representative Leslie Herod (D-District 8), Representative David Ortiz (D-District 38)

Summary: The bill creates a program in the office of economic development and international trade (OEDIT) to support entrepreneurs in the marijuana industry, which will primarily assist social equity licensees, as that term is used in the "Colorado Marijuana Code." The program consists of:

  • Loans to social equity licensees for seed capital and ongoing business expenses;
  • Grants to social equity licensees to support innovation and job creation and organizations that support marijuana businesses to be used to support innovation and job creation of social equity licensees; and
  • Technical assistance for marijuana business owners, prioritizing social equity licensees who have been awarded a loan or grant through the program.

OEDIT is authorized to directly administer the program itself or through one or more partner entities. In consultation with other relevant state agencies, industry experts and other stakeholders, OEDIT is required to establish policies setting forth the parameters and eligibility for the program. OEDIT is required to consult with the Colorado Economic Development Commission regarding the administration of the program. OEDIT is also required to submit a report by July 1 of 2022 and 2023 to the governor and legislative committees detailing program expenditures.

The program is initially funded with a $4 million transfer from the marijuana tax cash fund to the newly created marijuana entrepreneur fund, from which the money is continuously appropriated to OEDIT for the program. OEDIT may use some of this money for the program's administrative expenses. Beginning with the fiscal year 2022-’23, the General Assembly may appropriate additional money from the marijuana tax cash fund to the marijuana entrepreneur fund.

Status: Revised bill passed House and Senate; signed by Governor.

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