The speed at which Colorado and the nation are changing laws around cannabis means it can be difficult to know what’s changed, what’s about to change and what’s even under consideration by our lawmakers. Let’s play a little catch-up on national and state news:
At the federal level...
• At a recent Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing, U.S. Attorney General William Barr said he preferred a states-rights approach to marijuana over the status quo. That approach is outlined in the so-called STATES Act, which was introduced earlier this month in Congress by Colorado’s U.S. Sens. Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet and Colorado Rep. Joe Neguse. (Bennet and Neguse are Democrats and Gardner is a Republican.) President Donald Trump has previously said he would probably support the act, which would exempt legal states and tribes from most provisions of the Controlled Substances Act.
• Legislation prohibiting federal regulators from punishing financial institutions that provide services to cannabis-related businesses and their owners and employees is gaining momentum in Congress.
The Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act of 2019, sponsored by Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colorado, was approved March 28 by the House Financial Services committee.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers also introduced a version of the bill in the Senate on April 11.
At the state level...
• On April 8, the House Finance Committee referred House Bill 1230, “Marijuana Hospitality Establishments,” to the Committee on Appropriations.
The bill, sponsored by Reps. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont, and Jovan Melton, D-Aurora, would allow “retail marijuana hospitality and sales establishments,” where customers could buy, sample and consume cannabis products on-site. It would also legalize “marijuana hospitality establishments,” where you could smoke weed but not buy or sell it.
• The House Finance Committee also moved House Bill 1234, “Regulated Marijuana Delivery,” to Appropriations on April 8. It’s sponsored by Singer, along with Rep. Alex Valdez, D-Denver. The bill would establish delivery permits for licensed medical and retail marijuana businesses, to include a full range of products. It’s needed to “put a permanent end to the black market” for cannabis delivery, Valdez says.
• The state House voted 54-11 in favor of House Bill 1090, “Publicly Licensed Marijuana Companies,” on March 29, sending it to the Senate. It would allow publicly traded corporations to own or invest in marijuana businesses, which state regulations currently prohibit.
The bill is sponsored by Reps. Matt Gray, D-Broomfield, and Kevin Van Winkle, R-Highlands Ranch, along with Sens. Julie Gonzales, D-Denver, and Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs.
• Senate Bill 013, “Medical Marijuana Condition Opiates Prescribed For,” passed the state Senate and has been moved to the House Committee on Health & Insurance. Sponsored by Sens. Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins, and Joann Ginal, D-Fort Collins, along with Reps. Edie Hooton, D-Boulder, and Kim Ransom, R-Littleton, the bill would expand the conditions for which medical marijuana can be prescribed. The bill adds to that list any condition for which an opioid would have otherwise been prescribed, characterizing it as a “disabling medical condition.” The bill also removes extra requirements for those under 18 who want to access MMJ for such conditions, aligning requirements with the “constitutional provisions for a debilitating medical condition.”
• The stars were not aligned for Senate Bill 093, “Firearms for Medical Marijuana Users,” which would have clarified “that a person is not prohibited from carrying a firearm if the prior conviction was for the possession or use of marijuana that was lawfully possessed or used pursuant to the Colorado constitution.”
The bill, which was promptly killed back in February, was sponsored by Sen. Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins, and Rep. Bri Buentello, D-Pueblo.