How Pot Bills Fared at the Legislature

Marijuana is a hot topic at the State Capitol Building.
Marijuana is a hot topic at the State Capitol Building. Jacqueline Collins
It's been one wild ride through Colorado's 2018 legislative session, especially if you're interested in marijuana. Almost thirty pot-related bills were introduced this year, with the majority of them passing. The proposals included some controversial measures, such as at-home marijuana delivery, dispensary tasting rooms, providing medical marijuana for autism patients and the development of a tracking agent that would be applied to commercial pot plants and products.

Although twenty bills were ultimately approved by the Colorado General Assembly, Governor John Hickenlooper has only signed six of far. While we wait to see which ones get gubernatorial approval, here's a final roundup of pot-related bills introduced at the General Assembly and the final status of each.

SB 021: Marijuana Closed-Loop Payment System Pilot Project

Prime sponsors: Senator Cheri Jahn (Unaffiliated-District 20), Senator Tim Neville (R-District 16), Representative Dan Pabon (D-District 4)

The bill creates a closed-loop payment processing system pilot project in the marijuana state licensing authority. The state licensing authority, in consultation with the state treasurer, the department of public health and environment, and the department of regulatory agencies, shall promulgate rules to establish the pilot project. The pilot project shall include marijuana-related businesses and affiliated businesses and must create a mechanism for medical marijuana patients and retail marijuana customers to enroll in the pilot project. The state licensing authority shall submit a report to the General Assembly regarding the pilot project. The bill makes the closed-loop payment processing system subject to the unclaimed property act.

 Postponed indefinitely by the Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee on February 5.

SB 029: Development of Marijuana Tracking Technology

Prime sponsors:
Senator Leroy Garcia (D-District 3), Senator Kent Lambert (R-District 9), Representative Dan Pabon (D-District 4), Representative Yeulin Willett (R-District 54)

The bill requires the institute of cannabis research at Colorado State University Pueblo (institute) to develop marijuana tracking technology. The technology must include an agent that is applied to a marijuana plant, marijuana product, industrial hemp, or industrial hemp product and then scanned by a device. The scan, at a minimum, would indicate whether the marijuana or hemp was cultivated, manufactured, or sold by a licensed marijuana business or registered hemp cultivator. The institute shall select a vendor to develop the technology. After the technology is developed, the state licensing authority must be satisfied that the technology provides an effective means of tracking marijuana. After the state licensing authority determines the technology is an effective means of tracking marijuana, it shall promulgate rules that require the technology to be used by licensed marijuana businesses, and the commissioner of the Department of Agriculture shall promulgate rules that require registered industrial hemp cultivators to use the technology. The technology that scans the marijuana must be made available to law enforcement and the department of revenue.

The bill clarifies that the gray and black market marijuana enforcement grant program could award grants to law enforcement agencies to purchase the marijuana scanning technology.

Postponed indefinitely by the Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee on February 7.

SB 088: Taxation of Retail Marijuana Sales

Prime sponsors: Senator Bob Gardner (R-District 12), Representative K.C. Becker (D-District 13)

Before the enactment of Senate Bill 17-267, the state levied 2 sales taxes on retail marijuana sales: The 2.9 percent general state sales tax levied pursuant to article 26 of title 39, C.R.S., and the retail marijuana sales tax, a 10 percent special sales tax levied on retail marijuana sales only pursuant to article 28.8 of title 39, C.R.S. Senate Bill 17-267 increased the total rate of state sales tax levied on retail marijuana sales, as authorized by prior voter approval, by exempting retail marijuana sales from the 2.9 percent general state sales tax and increasing the rate of the retail marijuana sales tax from 10 percent to 15 percent, effective July 1, 2017.

Because enabling statutes specify that the regional transportation district (RTD), the scientific and cultural facilities district (SCFD), and health services districts (HSD) may levy sales tax only on transactions upon which the state levies sales tax 'pursuant to the provisions of article 26 of title 29, C.R.S.,' the exemption of retail marijuana sales from the general state sales tax had the unintended consequence of exempting such sales from RTD, SCFD, and HSD sales taxes even though the state continues to levy the retail marijuana sales tax pursuant to article 28.8 of title 39, C.R.S. In addition, other statutes that empower certain special districts and authorities to levy sales taxes only upon transactions upon which the state levies sales tax, but do not specifically reference article 26, are sufficiently ambiguous that they could be interpreted to no longer authorize those special districts to levy sales tax on retail marijuana sales.

The bill clarifies that:
  • Retail marijuana sales remain subject to the sales taxes of the RTD, SCFD, and HSD and any other sales taxes that limited purpose governmental entities levied on retail marijuana sales before July 1, 2017; and
  • A special district or other limited purpose governmental entity that was not levying sales tax on retail marijuana before July 1, 2017, may not levy sales tax on retail marijuana sales.
Status: Passed final reading in the Senate on February 13; signed into law on February 22.

SB 186: Allow Retail Marijuana Store to Sell Consumables

Prime sponsors:
 Senator Vicki Marble (R-District 23)

Summary: Under current law, a retail marijuana store is prohibited from selling any consumable product other than a retail marijuana product. The bill removes that prohibition.

Status: Postponed indefinitely by the Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee on March 19.

SB 187: Marijuana Waste Recycling

Prime sponsors:
Senator Vicki Marble (R-District 23), Senator Jack Tate (R-District 27), Representative Jeni James Arndt (D-District 53)

Summary: The bill gives the state licensing authority rule-making authority to address conditions under which a medical or retail marijuana licensee is authorized to transfer marijuana fibrous waste to a person for the purpose of producing only industrial fiber products.

Status: Passed final reading in Senate on April 10; signed into law on April 26.

SB 261: Medical Marijuana Condition Opiates Prescribed For

Prime sponsors: Senator Vicki Marble (R-District 23), Representative Edie Hooton (D-District 10), Representative Kim Ransom (R-District 44)

Summary: The bill adds a condition for which a physician could prescribe an opiate for pain to the list of disabling medical conditions that authorize a person to use medical marijuana for his or her condition.

Status: Lost third Senate reading on April 30.
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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
Contact: Thomas Mitchell