Colorado Government

Colorado's Marijuana Bills of 2022

The Colorado State Capitol will host a handful of important marijuana debates this year.
The Colorado State Capitol will host a handful of important marijuana debates this year. Brandon Marshall
As we near the end of the Colorado Legislature's session, just a handful of bills involving cannabis have passed, but 2022 still promises to impact the state's marijuana industry.

Of the ten bills that have been introduced, one fixes a big technical problem in state marijuana business licensing, while another attempts to address the complicated issue of intoxicating hemp products. Other bills would have increased marijuana industry oversight or protected an employee's right to use marijuana off the clock, but both of them were defeated.

Here are the bills that have been proposed, their sponsors and their current status in the legislature. The summaries come from the original language of the bills, which could be amended:

House Bill 1037: Retail and Medical Marijuana Same Location

Prime Sponsors: Representative Edie Hooton (D-District 10), Representative Kevin Van Winkle (R-District 43), Representative Marc Snyder (D-District 18), Senator Sonya Jaquez Lewis (D-District 17)

Summary: The bill allows a person to operate a licensed medical marijuana business and a licensed retail marijuana business at the same location if permitted by the local licensing authority and the local jurisdiction where the businesses are located, and subject to requirements regarding separation of operations.

Status: Passed House and Senate unamended; signed by Governor.

House Bill 1135: Marijuana Transporter License Transfers

Prime Sponsors: Representative Kevin Van Winkle (R-District 43), Representative Marc Snyder (D-District 18), Senator Chris Holbert (R-District 30), Senator Robert Rodriguez (D-District 32)

Summary: Under current law, a marijuana transporter license cannot be transferred with a change of ownership. The bill removes this prohibition.

Status: Passed House and Senate unamended; signed by Governor.


House Bill 1152: Prohibit Employer Adverse Action Marijuana Use

Prime Sponsors: Representative Edie Hooton (D-District 10)

Summary: The bill prohibits an employer from taking adverse action against an employee, including an applicant for employment, who engages in the use of:
  • Medical marijuana on the premises of the employer during working hours; or
  • Retail or medical marijuana off the premises of the employer during nonworking hours.
An employer is permitted to impose restrictions on employee use of medical or retail marijuana under specified circumstances.

Status: Postponed indefinitely by House Business Affairs & Labor Committee.


House Bill 1222: Marijuana Responsible Vendor Designations

Prime Sponsors: Representative Kerry Tripper (D-District 28), Senator Chris Holbert (R-District 30), Senator Robert Rodriguez (D-District 32)

Summary: Under current law, a licensed medical or retail marijuana business may receive a responsible vendor designation if all of its employees successfully complete an approved course. If the business is subject to a licensing action, the designation can be considered a mitigating factor in the licensing action. The bill allows an individual to receive a designation and provides the same licensing mitigation protection to that individual in a licensing action. The bill clarifies how a business receives and maintains a designation and allows a person with a designation to take that designation with them to a new employer.

Status: Passed House and Senate amended; awaiting Governor's signature.


House Bill 1341: Marijuana Tax Cash Fund

Prime Sponsors: Representative Leslie Herod (D-District 8), Representative Julie McCluskie (D-District 61), Senator Rachel Zenzinger (D-District 19), Senator Bob Rankin (R-District 8)

Summary: When the marijuana tax cash fund (fund) was initially created, money in the fund was only available to be appropriated for fiscal years following the fiscal year in which it was received by the state. In 2020, the general assembly repealed this restriction, but in 2021, this language was inadvertently added back in by legislation that made an unrelated conforming amendment. The bill restores the correct language, which permits the general assembly to appropriate money from the fund for the same fiscal year in which it is received.

The bill delays transfers from the fund to the public school capital construction assistance fund (BEST fund). Instead of transferring $100 million on June 1, 2022, the bill requires the state treasurer to transfer the following amounts from the fund to the BEST fund:
  • $50 million on June 1, 2022;
  • $30 million on June 1, 2023; and
  • $20 million on June 1, 2024.
The bill also modifies the reserve requirement within the fund. Instead of limiting appropriations to 93% of the beginning balance in the fund, it requires the reserve to be 15% of the amount appropriated for the fiscal year. The bill also specifies that this reserve excludes any money from the fund that is designated to constitute part of the state emergency reserve and clarifies how the reserve works.

Status: Passed House and Senate amended; awaiting Governor's signature.


House Bill 1405: Add Faculty to Key Participant Definition for Hemp

Prime Sponsors: Representative Mandy Lindsay (D-District 42), Senator Sonya Jaquez Lewis (D-District 17)

Summary: To engage in industrial hemp cultivation in the state, a person is required to apply to the department of agriculture for a registration. In applying for a registration, the person must include the names and addresses of all key participants in the registered activity. The bill amends the definition of "key participant" to include faculty at an institution of higher education to align with federal law requirements that all individuals authorized to grow hemp under a registration undergo a criminal history record check.

Status: Passed House; awaiting full Senate vote.


Senate Bill 149: Improve Marijuana Industry Regulation

Prime Sponsors: Senator Kevin Priola (R-District 25), Senator Chris Hansen (D-District 31), Representative Judy Amabile (D-District 13). Representative Mike Lynch (R-District 49)

Summary: The bill requires future contracts for the seed-to-sale tracking system to be awarded pursuant to a transparent, online, and dynamically competitive process. The bill requires the state licensing authority to produce an annual report regarding its enforcement activities. The report must include:
  • The number of underage compliance checks performed in the previous calendar year;
  • The number of underage sale violations in the previous calendar year, including the name of the license violator, how many violations were the result of underage compliance checks or tips, and the sanction or sanctions imposed for each violation; and
  • A description of the black or gray market enforcement activities that the state licensing authority engaged in, including the dates of the activities, any violations found, and the result of those violations if known.
The bill also requires the state licensing authority to produce an annual report regarding licensing violations. The report must be organized by month, include the name of the violator and the violation location, and identify the violation and the sanction or sanctions imposed and if the sanction is a license revocation or voluntary surrender of a license and the reason for the revocation or voluntary surrender.

The state licensing authority shall maintain a free searchable database on its website related to compliance check records and minor in possession of marijuana records and an online method for submitting an anonymous tip related to licensing violations.

The bill requires the state licensing authority to conduct at least 2 compliance checks a year at each medical and retail marijuana center.

The bill requires regulatory penalties related to underage sales to be based on the number of violations and any injury or death that occurred as a result of the violation.

The bill requires the state licensing authority to promulgate rules regarding:
  • Product recalls, including a requirement for the issuance of a health and safety advisory when a product is recalled that includes the name of the product, the timing of when the consumer would receive the advisory, the places where the product was sold, the time period when the product was for sale, the requested actions that the state licensing authority may direct to a seller, cultivator, or manufacturer, and any other additional information that would assist the public; and
  • Timelines and deadlines for notifying a licensee of an alleged violation; a licensee's response to an alleged violation; and a licensee's compliance with any sanction imposed, which must require, in the case of an uncontested violation, that the licensee has 90 days to comply with the sanction.
The bill directs that when the state licensing authority convenes a work group, task force, or other group to assist in developing rules or policies that involve public health and consumer safety, the state licensing authority shall make every reasonable attempt to have broad representation from non-marijuana industry parties on the work group, task force, or other group. The bill requires the state licensing authority to provide any written materials received from a member of the group or task force to all members of the group or task force within 7 days after receipt of the material; except that any proprietary information must be redacted from the material.

The bill requires that when the state licensing authority reports a voluntary surrender of a license that is the result of a settlement or agreement with the licensing authority, the report shall designate the action as "voluntary surrender - licensing violation settlement."

Status: Postponed indefinitely by Senate Health & Human Services Committee.


Senate Bill 155: Expand Medical Marijuana Research Grant Programs

Prime Sponsors: Senator Don Coram (R-District 6)

Summary: The bill expands the medical marijuana research grant program by:
  • Providing grant funding for research intended to ascertain the safety of medical marijuana products; and
  • Encouraging the state board of health to prioritize grants to research the safety of medical marijuana products and the safety of administering medical marijuana for post traumatic stress disorder.
The bill requires the state treasurer to transfer $3 million from the general fund to the health research subaccount in the medical marijuana cash fund for the purpose of providing research grants and administering the grant program.

Status: Passed Senate and House amended; awaiting Senate consideration of House amendments.
click to enlarge TYLER B GRIMES
Tyler B Grimes

Senate Bill 178: Licensees Ability to Change Marijuana Designation

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

Summary: The bill allows a medical marijuana cultivation facility licensee to transfer medical marijuana to a retail marijuana cultivation facility licensee and the retail marijuana cultivation facility licensee to receive the marijuana and change the designation of the marijuana from medical to retail. The bill clarifies that the retail marijuana cultivation facility licensee is required to pay any retail marijuana excise tax.

Status: Passed Senate amended; House Appropriations Committee hearing yet to be scheduled.


Senate Bill 205: Intoxicating Hemp and Tetrahydrocannabinol Products

Prime Sponsors: Senator Don Coram (R-District 6), Senator Stephen Fenberg (D-District 18), Representative Alex Valdez (D-District 5),

Summary: Section 2 of the bill prohibits:
  • The manufacture, sale, offering for sale, storage, or delivery of an adult use cannabis product that is not manufactured by a person licensed under the "Colorado Marijuana Code" (license holder);
  • The manufacture, sale, offering for sale, storage, or delivery of a product containing industrial hemp that is for human consumption and that is not food, a cosmetic, a dietary supplement, a food additive, an herb, or an over-the-counter drug that contains industrial hemp; and
  • The manufacture, sale, offering for sale, storage, or delivery of an industrial hemp product that was not manufactured by a registered wholesale food manufacturer.
Section 3 imposes a civil penalty of up to $10,000 for:
  • Manufacturing, selling, offering for sale, storing, or delivering an adult use cannabis product that is not manufactured by a license holder; and
  • Violating a permit requirement for industrial hemp products established by rule.
These penalties are credited to the wholesale food manufacturing and storage protection cash fund.

Section 4 prohibits a political subdivision of Colorado from promulgating or enforcing additional duties for or standards for food safety applicable to premises or places where industrial hemp products are held for distribution, produced, manufactured, packed, processed, prepared, treated, packaged, or transported.

Current law authorizes the department of public health and environment (department) to require permits for manufacturing food that may be contaminated so that it is injurious to health. The department may establish standards for the permits and manufacturing. Section 5:
  • Adds dietary supplements, food additives, cosmetics, and industrial hemp products to this provision;
  • Adds that an ingredient that is injurious to health also authorizes the department to require a permit.
Section 6 requires a political subdivision of Colorado to get department approval to perform food safety inspections at facilities used to store, manufacture, produce, pack, process, treat, package, or transport industrial hemp products.

Current law declares industrial hemp products not adulterated unless the product violates certain provisions. Section 7 adds that an industrial hemp product is deemed adulterated if the product is an adult use cannabis product and is not manufactured by a license holder. Section 7 authorizes a wholesale food manufacturing facility to sell, produce, or possess products containing artificially derived cannabinoids only if:
  • The facility is registered;
  • The product is an industrial hemp product;
  • The product is not intoxicating; and
  • Prior to distribution and sale, the manufacturing facility has provided the marijuana enforcement division (division) samples and information concerning the product.
Section 9 authorizes the division to promulgate rules, with the technical assistance of the department, to define the amount of one or more tetrahydrocannabinols that results in the designation of a product as an adult use cannabis product. Section 9 also requires the division to promulgate rules to regulate the manufacturing, distribution, and sale of adult use cannabis products as retail marijuana products. Section 10 prohibits a retail marijuana store from offering for sale or accepting an adult use cannabis product that was not properly designated as and transferred to it by a licensed retail marijuana products manufacturer or accelerator manufacturer. Section 11 prohibits a retail marijuana manufacturer from transferring an adult use cannabis product unless the person holds the appropriate license under the "Colorado Marijuana Code".Section 12 makes it a deceptive trade practice to violate the provisions of the bill that apply to hemp, cannabis, or anything made from hemp or cannabis.

Status: Passed Senate amended; House committee hearing yet to be scheduled.
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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