Colorado Government

Colorado Cannabis Bills of 2023

Pot politics are already in full swing at the Colorado State Capitol.
Pot politics are already in full swing at the Colorado State Capitol. Evan Semón
Less than three weeks into the Colorado Legislature's 2023 session and we've already seen four marijuana bills introduced.

Two of those bills were introduced on January 9, the first day lawmakers convened at the State Capitol. One of the measures proposes an overhaul of the state's marijuana delivery and social equity licensing programs, while a different bill would give more disciplinary power to state regulators investigating bad actors in the pot industry.

Proposals regarding the potency of commercial marijuana products, declining pot tax revenue and intoxicating hemp products are also being discussed at the Capitol, but no other cannabis bills have been revealed yet. Find a rundown of the current three cannabis measures below, with more to come as they're introduced. (The summaries come from the original language of the bills, which could be amended.)


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: First hearing scheduled for Wednesday, February 1, with House Business Affairs & Labor Committee.


House Bill 1021: Embargo and Destroy Marijuana

Prime Sponsors: Representative Marc Snyder (D-El Paso and Teller counties)

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: First hearing with House Finance Committee yet to be scheduled.


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: First hearing with Senate Business, Labor & Technology Committee yet to be scheduled.


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 bonafide 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 nonedible, nonpsychoactive 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: First hearing with Senate Health & Human Services Committee 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

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