Colorado Medical Marijuana Code Reconsidered

Colorado Medical Marijuana Code Reconsidered


In November 2000, Colorado voters approved Amendment 20, a change to the state constitution to allow a system of patients and caregivers to grow and use marijuana for medical purposes.  The number of participants grew, but soon it became clear that Amendment 20 did not adequately provide a regulatory or legal framework for the industrial cultivation and distribution of medicine grade cannabis, so in 2010 lawmakers passed the Colorado Medical Marijuana Code, one of the most comprehensive regulatory systems for marijuana in the world at the time.

Then in 2012, voters passed constitutional Amendment 64, a groundbreaking provision that provides for the retail sale, taxation and regulation of marijuana to adults 21 and over for any intended purpose; so as lawmakers and regulators conduct a mandated “sunset evaluation” of the Colorado Medical Marijuana Code, they do so in a context of a carefully studied and highly regulated recreational marijuana system and several years hindsight.

On January, 20 2015, the Colorado Senate Finance Committee heard an overview of the medical marijuana program and set of 15 recommended changes from senior policy analyst Brian Tobias of the Department of Regulated Agencies.  Mr. Tobias described a medical system with 535 licensed dispensaries, 748 grow operations, 163 authorized edibles manufacturers and nearly 14,000 key and support employees.  Below are discrete audio clips of the 15 recommendations as iterated by Mr. Tobias followed by public testimony.  And we do recommend the final audio clip on the list, comments from Ron Kammerzell Senior Director, Enforcement, Colorado Department of Revenue.

At the conclusion of this committee meeting, the senators voted 5-0 to bring forward a bill that would adopt only one of the 15 recommendations, and that is to continue the program until 2019, but there was agreement that they would take the recommendations on advisement as they crafted new medical marijuana policy from the ground up …

Fifteen Recommendations:

1:  Continue the code until 2019 … (:45)


2: It would be unlawful for primary caregivers to fail to register … (2:24)


3:  The Colorado Department of Health’s medical marijuana program would sunset in 2019 as well … (:10)


4:  Medical marijuana should be tested in the same manner as retail mj … the retail code can inform the medical code … (3:08)


5: Prohibit the infusion of trademark products with marijuana … (1:00)


6: Unlawful to have an undisclosed business owner … this goes back to the Cole memo and conducting criminal background checks … (:59)


7:  This would allow more efficient and secure exchange of medical marijuana between centers, within the context of vertical integration … (2:12)


8: Harmonize the medical code licensee disqualifiers with the retail code … the medical code is far more strict than the licensing requirements for retail owners … (1:10)


9:  Implement seed to sale tracking for medical marijuana … merely codifies a current practice … (:31)


10: Harmonize the medical code to the retail code when the destruction of marijuana is ordered … (2:20)


11: Repeal from statute the hours a medical dispensary can sell marijuana to align with the retail system … (:30)


12: Require that “perishable” marijuana edibles must be refrigerated … (:41)


13: Ensure the confidentiality of licensee data, which could be used by competitor, for instance … (1:25)


14: Clarify that the executive director can continue a license renewal … a procedural detail … (:32)

15: Five changes not expected to have any substantive impacts … no associated audio …


Public Testimony

Robert Chase –  Colorado Coalition for Patients and Caregivers … (5:45)


Jason Warf – Southern Colorado Cannabis Council … (3:11)


Phillip Barton – patient and cannabis advocate … (4:24)


Jessica La Rue – from Park County, Colorado … (6:55)


Kirk Anderson, licensed psychiatrist … concerned about chronic pain being removed as a qualifying condition … (1:38)


Ian Barringer, Owner of RM3 Labs … concerned about restriction on testing marijuana for individuals and caregivers … (2:46)


Martha Montemayor, founder Healthy Choices Unlimited … (7:48)


Robin Hackett owns a dispensary and recreational use business known as Botana Care in Northglenn, Colorado … (5:34)


Larisa Bolivar, President of the Cannabis Consumers Union, a cannabis consumer advocacy and watchdog organization … (3:02)



Ron Kammerzell, Senior Director, Enforcement, Colorado Department of Revenue … in this extended clip, Mr. Kammerzell responds to much of the testimony and recommendations and interacts with lawmakers … (15:49)