Colorado Marijuana, Hemp and Pyschedelics Bills of 2023 | Westword
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How Every Marijuana, Hemp and Psychedelic Bill Fared in 2023

Before the Colorado Legislature's 2023 session wrapped up earlier this week, lawmakers considered thirteen marijuana, hemp and psychedelic bills. Here's how they all fared.
Colorado has led the country in marijuana legislation since 2012.
Colorado has led the country in marijuana legislation since 2012. Lindsey Bartlett
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Colorado's 2023 legislative session finally wrapped up late on May 8, and there were plenty of cannabis and psychedelic proposals in the mix.

A controversial measure proposing fewer medical marijuana restrictions for doctors and patients met with a hard stop early in the session, as sponsors pulled the bill without public testimony. There were some wins for marijuana proponents later on, however, including successful proposals to protect online dispensary sales and off-hour cannabis use by licensed workers. State marijuana regulators successfully pushed a bill that would give investigators more power when dealing with potentially harmful marijuana products, as well.

Perhaps the most notable bill, however, was a lengthy measure that attempts to regulate Proposition 122, the voter-approved initiative legalizing medical psilocybin while also decriminalizing DMT, ibogaine and mescaline (that is not from peyote).

Here's a rundown of the thirteen marijuana, hemp and psychedelic measures introduced at the Colorado Capitol this year (the summaries come from the original language of the bills, without amendments):

Marijuana Bills

House Bill 1020: Social Equity Licenses In Regulated Marijuana

Prime Sponsors: Representative Naquetta Ricks (D-Arapahoe County)

Summary: The bill creates an accelerator hospitality business license, accelerator transporter license, and accelerator retail deliverer permittee for social equity licensees qualified to participate in the accelerator program.

The bill requires the department of revenue to provide an annual report to the finance committees of the House of Representatives and the Senate concerning active social equity licenses, any recommendations for new social equity licenses and permits, and any recommendations for new or innovating funding sources for the social equity licensees or permittees.

Effective January 2, 2024, the bill amends the eligibility requirements for a person to qualify as a social equity licensee. The bill clarifies that the new eligibility requirements only apply to social equity licensee applications received on or after January 2, 2024, or to the reinstatement or reactivation of social equity licenses originally issued before January 2, 2024. The new eligibility requirements do not apply to the renewal of social equity licenses applied for or issued before January 2, 2024.

The bill authorizes a social equity licensee who satisfies the eligibility requirements effective January 2, 2024, with a retail marijuana transporter licensee and a retail marijuana delivery permit or an accelerator retail deliverer permit, to exercise the privileges of a retail marijuana store license without needing to obtain a retail marijuana store license or accelerator store license.

The bill requires the department of revenue to create incentives for social equity licensees and accelerator-endorsed licensees, including reducing or waiving fees.

The bill creates, in the office of economic development, a grant committee that is responsible for reviewing grant applications, selecting grant recipients, and determining grant awards that are issued pursuant to an existing grant program for supporting entrepreneurs in the marijuana industry.

Status: Passed House amended; held in Senate Appropriations Committee by Senate sponsor. Did not emerge for vote.


House Bill 1021: Embargo and Destroy Marijuana

Prime Sponsors: Representative Marc Snyder (D-El Paso and Teller counties), Representative Ron Weiberg (R- Larimer County), Senator Kevin Van Winkle (R-Douglas County), Senator Lisa Cutter (D-Jefferson County)

Summary: The bill authorizes the executive director of the Department of Revenue (state licensing authority) to:
  • Issue an administrative hold on the movement of medical or retail marijuana pending an investigation;
  • Embargo medical or retail marijuana when the state licensing authority finds objective and reasonable grounds to believe that the health, safety, or welfare of the public imperatively requires emergency action; and
  • Order the destruction of embargoed medical or retail marijuana after notice and opportunity for a hearing.
Status: Passed House and Senate amended; Governor Jared Polis signed bill on March 23.


House Bill 1214: Procedure to Apply for Commutation Of Sentence

Prime Sponsors: Representative Elisabeth Epps (D- Denver County), Senator James Coleman (D- Denver County), Senator Julie Gonzalez (D-Denver County)

Summary: The bill formalizes and establishes details concerning the process for an incarcerated individual (applicant) to apply for a commutation of sentence. The process includes requiring the executive clemency representative to gather information from the district attorney who prosecuted the applicant's case and creating a list of factors that the governor and executive clemency board may consider when evaluating the application and deciding whether the applicant's sentence should be commuted. The governor retains the ultimate decision-making authority whether to commute a sentence.

The bill permits the governor to grant pardons to a class of defendants who were convicted of the possession of up to 2 ounces of marijuana without complying with the commutation process.

The bill requires the governor's office to keep statistics on applications for commutation of sentence and post a report of the statistics annually on its website.

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


House Bill 1279: Allow Retail Marijuana Online Sales

Prime Sponsors: Representative William Lindstedt (D- Adams, Broomfield and Weld counties), Representative Said Sharbini (D-Adams County), Senator Robert Rodriguez (D-Arapahoe, Denver and Jefferson counties)

Summary: Current law prohibits a licensed retail marijuana store from selling retail marijuana or retail marijuana products over the internet or through delivery. The bill repeals the prohibition.

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


Senate Bill 045: Marijuana Financial Responsibility Requirements

Prime Sponsors: Senator Robert Rodriguez (D-Arapahoe, Denver and Jefferson counties)

Summary: The bill prohibits the state licensing authority from issuing or renewing a marijuana license unless the applicant or licensee shows proof of financial responsibility in an amount of not less than $100,000 for each license. The mechanism of financial responsibility must include coverage for liability for bodily injury to lawful users resulting from the manufacture, distribution, transportation, or sale of adulterated marijuana or adulterated marijuana-infused products.

Status: Postponed indefinitely by the Senate Business, Labor & Technology Committee at the request of the bill sponsor.


Senate Bill 081: Access To Medical Marijuana

Prime Sponsors: Senator Kevin Van Winkle (R-Douglas County), Senator Sonya Jaquez Lewis (D-Boulder, Broomfield and Weld counties), Representative  Matt Soper (R-Delta and Mesa counties) Representative Marc Snyder (D-El Paso and Teller counties)

Summary: Current law allows a physician to submit documentation to the department of public health and environment (department) stating that a patient has a debilitating medical condition or disabling medical condition and may benefit from the use of medical marijuana. The bill clarifies that the physician is submitting a recommendation to the department rather than a certification or authorization.

The bill removes the following requirements for a physician's recommendation to the department:
  • The physician's federal drug enforcement agency number;
  • The maximum THC potency level of the medical marijuana
  • product;
  • The recommended medical marijuana product;
  • The patient's daily authorized quantity of the medical
  • marijuana product; and
  • Directions for use of the medical marijuana product.
The bill allows a physician to establish a bona fide physician-patient relationship remotely via video or telephone conference if the patient is:
  • 21 years of age or older;
  • Under 18 years of age; or
  • 18 years of age or older but under 21 years of age and the patient received a medical marijuana recommendation prior to 18 years of age
The bill clarifies that a patient must only present a uniform certification form completed by a recommending physician to a medical marijuana store if the patient seeks to purchase more than the statutorily allowed limit of medical marijuana products.

Current law limits the amount of medical marijuana concentrate that a patient may purchase in a single day to 8 grams. The bill increases that limitation to 40 grams, but limits the total amount that a patient can purchase in a 30-day period to the equivalent of 8 grams per day. Current law limits the combined amount of medical marijuana products that a patient may purchase in a single day to 20,000 milligrams. The bill adds an exception to that limitation for non-edible, non-psychoactive medical marijuana products.

Current law limits the amount of medical marijuana concentrate that a patient 18 years of age or older but under 21 years of age may purchase in a single day to 2 grams. The bill allows a patient that is 18 years of age or older but under 21 years of age and had a registry identification card issued by the department prior to 18 years of age to purchase in a single day up to 8 grams of medical marijuana concentrate.

The bill clarifies that when a physician issues a uniform certification form to a patient 18 years of age or older, the physician may consider whether the patient had a registry identification card issued by the department prior to 18 years of age as a factor in recommending that the patient be allowed to purchase more than the statutorily allowed quantities of medical marijuana products.

The bill allows a retail marijuana store to sell retail marijuana products to patients at the statutorily allowed limit for medical marijuana products and registered primary caregivers 21 years of age or older who present a registry identification card issued by the department. The bill also allows a registered primary caregiver to purchase retail marijuana products for a patient who is under 21 years of age at the applicable statutorily allowed limit for medical marijuana products for patients under 21 years of age.

Status: Postponed indefinitely by the Senate Health & Human Services Committee at the request of the bill sponsor.


Senate Bill 171: Large Entertainment Facility Substance-free Seating Requirement

Prime Sponsors: Senator Kevin Priola (D- Adams and Weld counties), Representative Chris deGruy Kennedy (D-Jefferson County)

Summary: Section 1 of the bill requires an entertainment facility with a seating capacity of 7,000 seats or more to designate and enforce at least 4% of its seating capacity as substance-free seating. Substance-free seating is defined as seating where the use of alcohol, electronic smoking devices, marijuana, and tobacco (prohibited substances) is banned. Substance-free seating must include seats that are accessible to persons with disabilities and cannot be limited exclusively to seats that are higher than or farther away from the sport or entertainment activity relative to the majority of seats at the facility. Written policies and procedures, including those that enforce the ban on prohibited substances, are required. Signs regarding the ban must be prominently displayed in and around the substance-free seating sections.

Failure by an entertainment facility to comply with the requirement for designating and enforcing 4% or more substance-free seating is deemed "good cause" for refusal or denial of an alcohol beverage license renewal or initial license issuance by the state licensing authority as part of the existing regulatory scheme for such licenses. Failure to comply is also a basis for other license-related discipline, including suspension, revocation, or fine.

Sections 2 and 3 make conforming amendments to the statutory scheme for regulation of smoking. Section 4 makes conforming amendments to the statutory scheme for regulation of alcohol.

Status: Postponed indefinitely by the Senate Finance Committee.


Senate Bill 199: Marijuana License Applications and Renewals

Prime Sponsors: Senator Nick Hinrichsen (D-Pueblo County), Senator Kevin Van Winkle (R-Douglas County), Representative William Lindstedt (D- Adams, Broomfield and Weld counties), Representative Ron Weinberg (R-Larimer County)

Summary: A person applying for a marijuana license is required to pay both an application fee and a licensing fee. The bill clarifies that the state licensing authority may issue a refund of a licensing fee if the marijuana license application is denied but that the respective licensing authorities are to retain the application fees.

Current law requires a marijuana license applicant to obtain both a state license and local jurisdiction approval, and the state license is conditioned on local jurisdiction approval. The bill provides an applicant the opportunity to renew, for up to one year, a state license that would otherwise expire because of failure to receive local jurisdiction approval if the applicant demonstrates good cause.

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


Senate Bill 220: Public School Capital Construction Assistance Grants

Prime Sponsors: Senator Rachel Zenzinger (D- Adams and Jefferson counties), Senator Barbara Kirkmeyer (R-Larimer and Weld counties), Representative Shannon Bird (D-Adams and Jefferson counties), Representative Emily Sirota (D-Arapahoe and Denver counties)

Summary: During the 2021 legislative session, the general assembly transferred $10,000,000 from the general fund to the public school capital construction assistance fund (fund) and appropriated this money for air quality improvement grants for schools. Of the money transferred and appropriated for air quality improvement grants, $4,705,220 remains in the fund and has not been distributed. The appropriation for fiscal year 2021-22 has expired. The bill specifies that the unspent money transferred and appropriated for air quality improvement grants must not be used for air quality improvement grants and instead must be used for financial assistance as provided in the "Building Excellent Schools Today Act".

Also during the 2022 legislative session, the general assembly scheduled a transfer of $30,000,000 from the marijuana tax cash fund to the fund for June 1, 2023. The bill repeals this scheduled transfer before it occurs.

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


Senate Bill 265: Prohibit Professional Discipline For Marijuana

Prime Sponsors: Senator Kevin Van Winkle (R-Douglas County), Representative Marc Snyder (D-El Paso and Teller counties), Representative Matt Soper (R-Delat and Mesa counties)

Summary: The bill protects an individual applying for licensure, certification, or registration in a profession or occupation in Colorado (applicant), as well as a professional who is currently licensed, certified, or registered in a profession or occupation in Colorado (licensee), from having the license, certification, or registration denied to the applicant, or from discipline being imposed against the licensee, based solely on:
  • A civil or criminal judgment against the applicant or licensee regarding the consumption, possession, cultivation, or processing of marijuana, if the underlying actions were lawful and consistent with professional conduct and standards of care within Colorado and did not otherwise violate Colorado law; or
  • Previous professional disciplinary action concerning an applicant's or a licensee's professional licensure in this or any other state or U.S. territory, if the professional disciplinary action was based solely on the applicant's or licensee's consumption, possession, cultivation, or processing of marijuana and the applicant or licensee did not otherwise violate Colorado law.
Status: Passed House and Senate amended; awaiting Governor's signature.

Hemp Bills

Senate Bill 112: Department of Agriculture Supplemental

Prime Sponsors: Senator Rachel Zenzinger (D- Adams and Jefferson counties), Representative Shannon Bird (D-Adams and Jefferson counties)

Summary: Supplemental appropriations are made to the Department of Agriculture.

Status: Passed legislature February 16; signed by Governor on February 28.


Senate Bill 271: Intoxicating Cannabinoid Hemp and Marijuana

Prime Sponsors: Senator Dylan Roberts (D-Clear Creek, Eagle, Garfield, Gilpin, Grand, Jackson, Moffat, Rio Blanco, Routt and Summit counties), Senator Kevin Van Winkle (R-Douglas County), Representative Chris deGruy Kennedy (D-Jefferson County), Representative Marc Snyder (D-El Paso and Teller counties)

Summary: Current law requires the manufacturer of cosmetic products, dietary supplements, food products, and food additives, including hemp products, to be registered with the department of public health and environment (department).

The bill creates a new framework for the department to regulate and register hemp products and certain intoxicating hemp products and for the marijuana enforcement division in the Department of Revenue (division) to regulate intoxicating products or potentially intoxicating compounds that are or may be cannabinoids. This regulation includes:
  • The power to promulgate rules authorizing or prohibiting chemical modification, conversion, or synthetic derivation to create certain types of intoxicating cannabinoids;
  • Labeling and advertising requirements;
  • Production and testing requirements; and
  • Inspection, record-keeping, and tracking requirements.
Hemp- and marijuana-derived compounds and cannabinoids are classified into three classifications:
  • Nonintoxicating cannabinoids;
  • Potentially intoxicating compounds; and
  • Intoxicating cannabinoids.
Nonintoxicating cannabinoids that are derived from hemp may be produced, distributed, or sold as a hemp product. With the exception of products manufactured or produced for export, which are referred to as "safe harbor hemp products", products containing potentially intoxicating compounds and intoxicating cannabinoids must only be produced, distributed, or sold by a person licensed by the division to produce, distribute, or sell the compound or cannabinoid as a product.

The bill clarifies that:
  • Nonintoxicating cannabinoids, potentially intoxicating compounds, and intoxicating cannabinoids are marijuana or marijuana products for the purposes of the retail marijuana sales tax; and
  • A person must be licensed to manufacture potentially intoxicating compounds or intoxicating cannabinoids.

The bill prohibits the following acts:

  • Manufacturing, selling, or delivering products that contain intoxicating cannabinoids in excess of limits established by rule;
  • Manufacturing a product containing hemp that is not a cosmetic, a dietary supplement, a food, a food additive, or an herb; or
  • Manufacturing, producing, selling, distributing, or holding for sale or distribution a safe harbor hemp product without registering with the department.
The penalty for a violation is up to $10,000. The bill specifies factors to consider in determining the amount of the penalty.

The bill requires the executive director of the Department of Revenue to analyze the feasibility of establishing a standing committee to evaluate cannabinoids and cannabis-derived products for the purpose of determining and making recommendations regarding their safety profiles and potential for intoxication. The department of revenue may engage experts to do this analysis.

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


Psychedelic Bill

Senate Bill 290: Natural Medicine Regulation And Legalization

Prime Sponsors: Senator Stephen Fenberg (Boulder County), Representative Julie Amabile (D-Boulder, Clear Creek, Gilpin and Larimer counties)

Summary: The bill amends the regulatory framework for natural medicine and natural medicine product.

The bill requires the director of the division of professions and occupations to:
  • Regulate facilitators and the practice of regulation, including issuing licenses for facilitators;
  • Promulgate rules necessary for the regulation of facilitators and the practice of facilitation; and
  • Perform duties necessary for the implementation and administration of the "Natural Medicine Health Act of 2022", including investigatory and disciplinary authority.
The bill creates the natural medicine advisory board (board). The board's duties include examining issues related to natural medicine and natural medicine product, and making recommendations to the director of the division of professions and occupations and the executive director of the state licensing authority.

The bill creates within the department of revenue the division of natural medicine for the purpose of regulating and licensing the cultivation, manufacturing, testing, storage, distribution, transport, transfer, and dispensation of natural medicine or natural medicine product between natural medicine licensees. The bill requires the division of natural medicine to:
  • Regulate natural medicine, natural medicine product, and natural medicine businesses, including healing centers, cultivators, manufacturers, and testers, and issue licenses for such businesses;
  • Promulgate rules necessary for the regulation of natural medicine, natural medicine product, and natural medicine businesses; and
  • Perform duties necessary for the regulation of natural medicine, natural medicine product, and natural medicine businesses, including investigatory and disciplinary authority.
The bill requires the department of revenue to coordinate with the department of public health and environment concerning testing standards of regulated natural medicine and natural medicine product.

The bill requires a sunset review for the articles governing the department of regulatory affairs and the department of revenue in the regulation of natural medicine, natural medicine product, facilitators, and natural medicine businesses.

The bill states that:
  • A person who is under 21 years of age who knowingly possesses or consumes natural medicine or natural medicine product commits a drug petty offense and is subject to a fine of not more than $100 or not more than 4 hours of substance use education or counseling; except that a second or subsequent offense is subject to a fine of not more than $100, not more than 4 hours of substance use education or counseling, and not more than 24 hours of useful public service;
  • A person who openly and publicly consumes natural medicine or natural medicine product commits a drug petty offense and is subject to a fine of not more than $100 and not more than 24 hours of useful public service;
  • A person who knowingly cultivates natural medicine shall do so on the person's private property, subject to area and physical security requirements. A person who violates this provision commits a drug petty offense and is subject to a fine of not more than $1,000.
  • A person who is not licensed to manufacture natural medicine product and who knowingly manufactures natural medicine product using an inherently hazardous substance commits a level 2 drug felony;
  • Unless expressly limited, a person who for the purpose of personal use and without remuneration, possesses, consumes, shares, cultivates, or manufactures natural medicine or natural medicine product, does not violate state or local law, except that nothing permits a person to distribute natural medicine or natural medicine product to a person for certain unlawful purposes;
  • Unless expressly limited, a person who performs testing on natural medicine or natural medicine product for another person who is 21 years of age or older who submits for testing natural medicine or natural medicine product intended for personal use does not violate state or local law;
  • A peace officer is prohibited from arresting, and a district attorney is prohibited from charging or prosecuting, a person for a criminal offense under part 4 of article 18 of title 18 involving natural medicine or natural medicine product, unless expressly provided by the bill;
  • A lawful action related to natural medicine or natural medicine product must not be the sole reason to subject a person to a civil penalty, deny a right or privilege, or seize assets;
  • A lawful action related to natural medicine or natural medicine product must not be used as the sole factor in a probable cause or reasonable suspicion determination of any criminal offense; except that an action may be used in such determination if the original stop or search was lawful and other factors are present to support a probable cause or reasonable suspicion determination of any criminal offense;
  • The fact that a person is entitled to consume natural medicine or natural medicine product does not constitute a defense against any charge for violation of an offense related to operation of a vehicle, aircraft, boat, machinery, or other device;
  • A local jurisdiction is prohibited from adopting, enacting, or enforcing a conflicting law;
  • A person or entity who occupies, owns, or controls a property may prohibit or otherwise regulate the cultivation or manufacture of natural medicine or natural medicine product on or in that property.
The bill states that the juvenile court has exclusive original jurisdiction in proceedings concerning a juvenile 10 years of age or older who has violated an offense concerning natural medicine or natural medicine product. Furthermore, the juvenile court and county court have concurrent jurisdiction over a juvenile who is 10 years of age or older who has violated an offense concerning natural medicine product; except that if the juvenile court accepts jurisdiction, the county court jurisdiction terminates.

The bill states that an act involving natural medicine or natural medicine product that is performed by a person:
  • Does not solely constitute child abuse or neglect, or grounds for restricting or prohibiting family time;
  • Does not solely constitute grounds for denying health insurance coverage;
  • Does not solely constitute grounds for discrimination for organ donation; and
  • Must not be considered for public assistance benefits eligibility, unless required by federal law.
The bill makes a person eligible to file a motion to have conviction records related to natural medicine or natural medicine product sealed immediately after the later date of final disposition or release from supervision.

Under federal law, certain expenses are disallowed under section 280E of the internal revenue code. Under state law, the state income tax code permits taxpayers who are licensed under the "Colorado Marijuana Code" to subtract expenses that are disallowed by section 280E of the internal revenue code. The bill expands this permission to taxpayers who are licensed under the "Colorado Natural Medicine Code".

(Note: Italicized words indicate new material added to the original summary.)

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