Tracking Colorado's Marijuana and Hemp Bills in 2021

Extracted marijuana products are the focal point of a new bill restricting medical marijuana access and concentrate sales.
Extracted marijuana products are the focal point of a new bill restricting medical marijuana access and concentrate sales. Jacqueline Collins
We've hit the end of the 2021 legislative session, and while a much-hyped measure that would have proposed limiting the potency of commercial marijuana products wasn't introduced this year, there was a successful bill proposing a list of new restrictions on medical marijuana and THC concentrates.

That wasn't the only noteworthy cannabis issue at the Capitol, however. We saaw a handful of important marijuana bills passed, including an effort to expand medical marijuana access for child patients at school, a proposal to raise the state's marijuana possession limit, and a measure that will set aside $4 million for social equity efforts in the pot industry.

Here's a breakdown of the ten marijuana-related bills that hit the Colorado General Assembly in 2021 (the summaries come from the text of the bills, most of which were amended), as well as their outcomes.


HB 1317: Regulating Marijuana Concentrates

Prime sponsors: Representative Alec Garnett (D-District 2), Representative Yadira Caraveo (D-District 31), Senator Paul Lundeen (R-District 9), Senator Chris Hansen (D-District 31)

The bill requires the Colorado school of public health to do a systematic review of the scientific research related to the physical and mental health effects of high-potency THC marijuana and concentrates. The bill creates a scientific review council (council) to review the report and make recommendations to the general assembly. Based on the research and findings, the Colorado school of public health shall produce a public education campaign for the general public, to be approved by the council, regarding the effect of high-potency THC marijuana on the developing brain and mental health.

Current law requires a doctor to conduct a full assessment of the patient's medical history when making a medical marijuana recommendation. The bill requires that assessment to include the patient's mental health history. If the recommending physician is not the patient's primary care physician, the bill directs the recommending physician to review the records of a diagnosing physician or licensed mental health provider. When a practitioner makes a medical marijuana authorization, the practitioner must certify that authorization to the department of public health and environment. The bill requires the certification to include:

The date of issue and the effective date of the recommendation;
The patient's name and address;
The recommending physician's name, address, and federal drug enforcement agency number;
The THC potency level of medical marijuana being recommended;
The dosage form;
The daily authorized quantity;
Directions for use; and
The recommending physician's signature.

The bill prohibits a physician for charging an additional fee for recommending an extended plant count or making a recommendation related to an exception to a medical marijuana requirement.

The bill imposes the following requirements on medical marijuana patients ages eighteen to twenty years old:

Two physicians from different medical practices have to diagnose the patient as having a debilitating or disabling medical condition after an in-person consultation;
One of the physicians must explain the possible risks and benefits of the medical use of marijuana to the patient;
One physician must provide the patient with the written documentation specifying that the patient has been diagnosed with a debilitating or disabling medical condition and the physician has concluded that the patient might benefit from the medical use of marijuana; and
The patient attends follow-up appointments every 6 months after the initial visit with one of the physicians.
The bill requires the Department of Public Health and Environment to create a report from emergency room and hospital discharge data of patients who presented with conditions or a diagnosis that reflect marijuana use and provide that report at the department's annual "State Measurement for Accountable, Responsive, and Transparent (SMART) Government Act" hearing.

The bill requires the coroner in each case of a suicide, overdose death, or accidental death to order a toxicology screen. The coroner shall report the results of the toxicology screen to the Colorado violent-death reporting system. The department then will produce an annual report of the data beginning January 2, 2022, and annually each year thereafter.

The bill prohibits medical marijuana advertising that is specifically directed to those ages eighteen to twenty and requires medical and retail marijuana concentrate advertising to include a warning regarding the risks of medical marijuana concentrate overconsumption.

A medical and retail marijuana store shall provide a notice at the time of sale regarding the criminal penalties associated with marijuana diversion. A medical marijuana store and retail marijuana store shall provide a patient with a pamphlet regarding the risks of overconsumption of medical marijuana concentrate when selling concentrate.

The bill requires medical marijuana stores to immediately record transactions in the seed-to-sale inventory tracking system to allow the system to:

Continuously monitor entry of patient data to identify discrepancies with daily purchase limits and potency authorizations;
Access and retrieve real-time sales data based on patient identification number; and
Respond with a user error message if a sale to a patient or caregiver will exceed the patient's allowed purchase limit for that business day or potency authorization.

The bill limits the amount of medical marijuana concentrate that a patient can purchase in one day to 8 grams, unless the patient is eighteen to twenty years old; then the limit is 2 grams, except in the case of a homebound patient or if the patient's certification states that the patients needs more than 8 grams or 2 grams, respectively.

Beginning January 1, 2023, the bill requires medical marijuana concentrate and retail marijuana concentrate to be sold in a package containing one gram separated into no less than ten equal portioned amounts. The bill limits the amount of retail marijuana concentrate that a patient can purchase in one day to 8 grams.

Status: Passed Legislature amended June 8; awaiting governor's signature.

HB 1301
: Cannabis Outdoor Cultivation Measures

Prime sponsors: Representative Daneya Esgar (D-District 46), Representative Richard Holtorf (R-District 64), Senator Don Coram (R-District 6), Senator Dominick Moreno (D-District 21)

Summary: Section 1
defines "cross-pollination", "farm", "licensed outdoor marijuana farm", "volunteer plant", and "registered outdoor hemp farm" in connection with the convening of a working group in section 2 to examine measures to minimize cross-pollination between cannabis plants. Section 4 requires the state licensing authority to convene a working group on or before November 1, 2021, to examine existing rules and tax laws that apply to the wholesale marijuana cultivation market to explore how the rules and laws could be amended to better position Colorado businesses to be competitive in interstate commerce if marijuana is legalized federally. The working group is required to report its findings and recommendations to the executive director of the department of revenue and the general assembly on or before June 1, 2022.Section 5 requires the state licensing authority to engage in rule-making on:

The process, procedures, and requirements for contingency plans for outdoor marijuana cultivation facilities to ameliorate crop loss due to adverse weather;

Procedures for outdoor marijuana cultivation facilities to follow to temporarily cover crops to protect them from extreme weather;

Procedures for the conditional issuance of an employee license identification card.

Sections 6 and 7 authorize medical marijuana cultivation and retail marijuana cultivation facility licensees with outdoor cultivation facilities, starting January 1, 2022, to file with the state licensing authority a contingency plan for when there is a threat to operations due to an adverse weather event and, if approved, to follow the plan if there is an adverse weather event.

Before January 1, 2022, sections 6 and 7 authorize a medical marijuana cultivation facility licensee or a retail marijuana cultivation facility licensee with outdoor cultivation facilities to take reasonable and necessary steps to ameliorate crop loss due to an adverse weather event. The action is not a violation of state law or rules or local law or regulations unless the state licensing authority or a local authority can show that the action was not reasonable and necessary to prevent or ameliorate crop loss due to an adverse weather event.

Section 3 defines "adverse weather event" to mean damaging weather, such as drought, freeze, hail, excessive moisture, excessive wind, or tornado or an adverse natural occurrence, such as an earthquake or a flood.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as introduced.)

Status: Passed Legislature amended June 8; awaiting governor's signature.

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: Passed Legislature amended June 8; awaiting governor's signature.

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.

 Passed Legislature amended; signed by Governor May 6.

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Marijuana continues to be a hot topic of discussion at the Colorado Capitol in 2021.
Jacqueline Collins

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;

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.

 Passed Legislature amended; signed by Governor March 21.

HB 1090: Criminal Marijuana Offenses

Prime sponsors: Representative Alex Valdez (D-District 5), Senator Julie Gonzales (D-District 34)

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: Passed Legislature amended; signed by Governor May 20.

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 Legislature amended; signed by Governor May 10.

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)

 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 Legislature unamended; signed by Governor April 29.


HB 1159
: Limitations on Regulated Marijuana Delivery

Prime Sponsors:

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: Postponed indefinitely May 6 at request of Snyder by House Finance Committee.

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: Postponed Indefinitely by House Finance Committee Hearing May 20.
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Thomas Mitchell has written about all things cannabis for Westword since 2014, covering sports, real estate and general news along the way for publications such as the Arizona Republic, Inman and Fox Sports. He's currently the cannabis editor for westword.com.
Contact: Thomas Mitchell