This week, the Colorado General Assembly passed two bills expanding patient access to medical marijuana, which now await the Governor’s signature.
DPA championed SB19-013, which adds any condition for which a physician could prescribe an opioid to the list of disabling medical conditions that authorize a person to use medical marijuana. The House approved this bipartisan bill on Tuesday and yesterday the Senate, which had originally released it in February, concurred with House amendments for final passage. In addition to giving Coloradans the option of accessing medical marijuana as an alternative to opioids, this bill amends the requirements for physicians who recommend medical marijuana for pediatric patients with disabling medical conditions, to make the criteria less burdensome for families.
The General Assembly also passed SB19-218 with prime sponsorship by Senator Gonzalez (District 34) and Representative Jaquez Lewis (District 12). This bill broadly addresses regulations for the medical marijuana program and includes provisions to allow dentists and advanced practice practitioners to make recommendations for medical marijuana. This authority has previously been limited to doctors of medicine or osteopathic medicine.
“These bills represent a crucial synergy between harm reduction and marijuana policy,” said Art Way, Colorado State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance.
“Allowing medical marijuana as an alternative to opioids will help prevent overdose deaths by giving patients a legitimate, viable alternative,” added Way. “Allowing a broader range of medical practitioners to recommend medical marijuana will increase opportunities for patients to engage with their health providers and determine what’s safest for them.”
Prime sponsors Senators Marble (District 23) and Ginal (District 14) and Representatives Hooton (District 10) and Ransom (District 44) ushered SB19-013 through with support from dozens of advocates from the Drug Policy Alliance, Safe Access Colorado, American Medical Refugees, Mothers Advocating Medical Marijuana for Autism (MAMMA), Influential X, Colorado NORML, Access Hope, Denver NORML, CannAbility Foundation, Canna-Patient Resource Connection, Cannabis Consumers Coalition, Veterans for Natural Rights and more. With enactment of SB19-013, Colorado would join a handful of other states, including Illinois, New York, Missouri, New Mexico and New Jersey, which have implemented harm reduction measures related to opioids through their medical marijuana programs.