House Advances Bill to Curb Youth Access to High-Potency THC

Legislation would advance research, address diversion, and educate consumers

DENVER, CO – The House today advanced legislation sponsored by Speaker Alec Garnett and Representative Yadira Caraveo, a pediatrician, on a preliminary vote that would address youth access to high-potency cannabis products. 

“Colorado is going to lead the way on addressing youth access to high-potency cannabis,” said Speaker Alec Garnett, D-Denver. “We are going to be at the forefront of looking at the science and the relationship between high-potency concentrates and the developing brain, taking on a role the federal government should have played years ago. This bill takes a measured, innovative approach to prevent Coloradans age 18-20 from purchasing massive quantities of concentrates and then diverting those products into the gray and black markets where our youth are buying them.”

“As a pediatrician, I’ve seen first hand how young Coloradans have experienced significant health issues after using high-potency products,” said Rep. Yadira Caraveo, a pediatrician. “We have to take a look at how we can keep high-potency cannabis away from our youth who aren’t supposed to have access to it. This bill will make a big difference by strengthening the doctor-patient relationship and better educating consumers on high-potency products while ensuring we protect patients’ access to medical marijuana.”

The bill would advance research into the impact of high potency marijuana on the developing brain, address diversion of cannabis concentrates purchased in the medical marijuana marketplace, and educate consumers about concentrates through visual representations of a recommended serving size  and public awareness campaigns. 

Advances Research: The bill funds and advances critical research into the impact of high-potency cannabis concentrate products on the developing brain and on physical and mental health. It requires the Colorado School of Public Health to conduct a systematic review of the current scientific research into the effects of high-potency THC marijuana and concentrates and identify gaps in order to conduct new research. Under the bill, a new scientific review council of doctors and experts will review the report and make recommendations to the General Assembly on appropriate evidence-based regulatory changes and the funding of additional necessary evidence-based research. 

Addresses Diversion of High-Potency Products: The bill cracks down on “looping” and diversion by reducing the amount of medical concentrates someone can purchase in a day and requiring the Marijuana Enforcement Division’s seed-to-sale tracking database, METRC, to update at the point of sale, instead of at the end of each business day. 

  • Enhanced Doctor-Patient Relationship: The bill adjusts medical marijuana recommending practices by requiring doctors to specify a daily quantity authorization and to consider a patient’s mental health history when making a cannabis recommendation. For patients ages 18-20, the bill requires two physicians from different medical practices to diagnose the patient as having a debilitating or disabling medical condition after an in-person consultation, and the patient must attend a follow-up appointment every six months after the initial visit unless that patient is homebound.  
  • Real-Time Medical Marijuana Purchase Reporting: Through a practice known as “looping,” consumers can purchase the daily limit at multiple dispensaries, circumventing the limits and increasing youth access to high-potency cannabis products. The bill would crack down on “looping” in the medical marketplace by requiring medical marijuana stores to immediately record transactions in the seed-to-sale inventory tracking system. This would allow the system to identify discrepancies with daily purchase limits, access and retrieve real-time sales data, and alert medical mariuana stores if a sale to a patient has exceeded their daily purchase limit for that business day. 
  • Reduced Daily Purchase Amounts: The bill would limit daily medical marijuana concentrate purchases to eight grams for patients 21 years and older and to two grams for patients between the age of 18 and 20. Patients who had a medical marijuana card before the age of 18, patients who are homebound, for whom a physician has recommended a higher daily authorization, or for patients for whom going to a medical marijuana store on a daily basis presents significant physical or geographical hardship are exempt from these new limits. 
  • Consumer Education and Protection: The bill would better educate consumers about high-potency THC marijuana and concentrates by tasking the Colorado School of Public Health with developing a public education campaign, requiring MED to create a tangible education resource on the potential risks of concentrates and that shows visual representations of a recommended serving size  be included with every sale, and by prohibiting advertisements targeted toward Colorado youth. 

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