The Senate on Thursday unanimously voted to give final passage to a measure aimed at keeping high-potency THC products out of the hands of teenagers after making a number of changes to the version of the bill approved by the House last week.
“This is not a perfect piece of legislation, haven't seen one yet in five years at the Capitol. But this is a big improvement over the much less perfect status quo,” said Sen. Chris Hansen, D-Denver, one of House Bill 1317’s prime sponsors in the Senate. Sen. Paul Lundeen, R-Monument, joined Hansen as a prime sponsor while his GOP colleague, Sen. Kevin Priola of Henderson, also carried the bill.
Speaking on the floor ahead of the vote on final passage of the bill, Priola laid out his family’s experience with high-potency marijuana products like concentrates. He described his son’s struggles with those products, which he said put a tremendous strain on his family and marriage and caused him to reconsider running for reelection.
“What the industry has produced the last many years, since the constitutional amendments were adopted, is just simply not your uncle's Woodstock weed,” Priola said.
A main component of the bill is designed to address “looping,” when a patient buys up to their daily limit at one dispensary before heading to another to again buy up to their daily limit before the system updated. According to the bill sponsors, looping by 18-year-old medical card holders is the main way high-potency THC products are making their way into the hands of underage students.
To address that, the bill lowers the daily purchase limits on concentrates for medical patients and recreational consumers and requires the Metrc seed-to-sale tracking system to be updated to tie purchases to a medical patient’s identification number in real time, rather than at the end of each day.
Sen. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, said she saw that provision of the bill as being “about protecting the future of young people.”
“We need to be concerned about this industry and how it might be interfering with the intellectual development of our kids, and when you smoke cannabis or marijuana or all this other stuff that's out there, there's consequences associated with it,” she said.
The bill directs the Colorado School of Public Health to conduct an analysis of existing research on the impact of high-potency THC marijuana and concentrates on physical and mental health, find gaps in that research and conduct studies to fill those gaps.
The final vote came after lawmakers in the Senate on Wednesday added 10 amendments to the bill — some technical in nature, others more substantive.
The first five of those came from Hansen and were approved with little debate. On the technical side was an amendment correcting a drafting error that mistakenly set the daily purchase limit for marijuana concentrate at 40 grams when it should have eight grams. Another amendment allocated $2 million from the Marijuana Cash Tax Fund to fund enforcement efforts for driving under the influence of drugs.
The body also approved four amendments from Minority Leader Chris Holbert, including one focusing on the privacy of medical marijuana patient’s data, a concern that had been previously raised in the House.
Though the chamber rejected three other amendments brought by Holbert, including an attempt to replace the bill’s safety clause with a petition clause, the Douglas County Republican said the bill sponsors' willingness to work with him brought him to a “yes” on the bill.
After the changes made by the Senate, lawmakers will have to reconcile the differences in the legislation before it can go to Gov. Jared Polis’ desk.