Colorado 2019 Legislative Session Drug Policy Reform Recap

Bills Signed into Law

HB19-1225 (Prime Sponsors: Rep. Herod, Rep. Soper, Sen Lundeen, Sen. Lee), prohibits monetary bail for petty offenses, traffic offenses and comparable municipal offenses.

HB19-1028 (Prime Sponsors: Rep. Hooton, Rep. Ransom, Sen. Coram, Sen. Fenberg) adds Autism Spectrum Disorder to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana.

SB19-013 (Prime Sponsors: Sen. Marble, Sen. Ginal, Rep. Hooton, Rep. Ransom) adds “a condition for which a physician may prescribe an opioid” to the qualifying disabling medical conditions for medical marijuana, giving Coloradans who wish to avoid or minimize their opioid use legitimate access to a viable and less dangerous alternative. It also changes the requirements on specific physicians who recommend medical marijuana for pediatric patients with disabling medical conditions to make the criteria less burdensome for families. Special thanks to the broad coalition who supported this bill: 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!

HB19-1193 (Prime Sponsors: Rep. Herod, Rep. Pelton, Sen. Garcia) reflects policy recommendations from the Coalition to Protect Children and Family Rights by expanding eligibility for Medicaid-funded substance use disorder  treatment currently limited to pregnant people into the postpartum period and extending protections against information related to substance use being used as criminal evidence during prenatal care into postpartum care and to conversations with behavioral health providers. Shout out to our friends at Illuminate Colorado and Mental Health Colorado for championing this bill!

SB19-227 (Prime Sponsors: Sen. Pettersen, Sen. Gonzales, Rep. Kennedy, Rep. Herod) decriminalizes life-saving drug checking tools by striking the testing/analyzing language from Colorado’s definition of drug paraphernalia.  Additional provisions expand sterile syringe access and naloxone availability.

SB19-008 (Prime Sponsors: Sen. Priola, Sen. Pettersen, Rep. Kennedy, Rep. Singer) mandates continuity of care for MAT patients moving from local jails into DOC custody, requires Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice to look into alternatives to criminalization and, in lieu of expanding the scope of the LEAD programs as we continue to assess their initial implementation, creates a grant program to bolster Colorado’s harm reduction infrastructure.

HB19-1031 (Prime Sponsors: Rep. Gray, Sen. Gonzales) allows each parent or guardian of a child to serve as a medical marijuana caregiver, providing more flexibility for families caring for medically fragile children.

HB19-1122 (Prime Sponsors: Rep. Buckner, Rep. Landgraf, Sen. Fields, Sen. Gardner) creates a review committee to more closely and systematically study maternal deaths and to develop recommendations to prevent maternal deaths and support the pregnant and postpartum population. This is closely related to drug policy given the racial disparities in maternal health and alarming rates of maternal mortality due to overdose.

HB19-1263 (Prime Sponsors: Rep. Herod, Rep. Sandridge, Sen. Marble, Sen. Lee) reduces simple possession of any Schedule I or II drug from a felony to a misdemeanor, as California, Oklahoma, Oregon, Connecticut and other states have done in recent years. Shout out to our allies at the Public Defender’s Office and the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition for securing this victory after multiple attempts!

SB19-224 (Prime Sponsors: Sen. Fenberg, Rep. Herod, Rep. Van Winkle) adopts various changes to the retail marijuana code in conjunction with the 2018 sunset review process. Our Cannabis Equity Coalition, which includes Black Lives Matter 5280, CannAbility Foundation, Cannabis Consumers Coalition, Cannabis Global Initiative, Colorado Fiscal Institute, Colorado Latino Forum, Colorado NORML, Denver NORML, Denver Relief Consulting, kindColorado, Minority Cannabis Business Association, Sensible Colorado, Servicios de le Raza and Students for Sensible Drug Policy successfully advocated for provisions to improve social equity in the retail marijuana industry, including the creation of a new set of licenses for an accelerator program, lowering restrictions for licensure for people with felony convictions and collecting data to ensure a fairer playing field in the industry.

SB19-218 (Prime Sponsors: Sen. Gonzales, Rep. Jaquez Lewis) adopts various changes to the medical marijuana code in conjunction with the 2018 sunset review process while markedly improving access for patients. For example, this bill extends the capacity for making medical marijuana recommendations to dentists and advanced practice practitioners, authority that has previously been limited to doctors of medicine or osteopathic medicine.

HB19-1230 (Prime Sponsors: Rep. Singer, Rep. Melton, Sen. Marble, Sen. Gonzales) allows localities to license marijuana hospitality establishments and create new opportunities for entrepreneurs to enter the broader retail cannabis industry at a lower start-up cost. This was also an equity priority for our Cannabis Equity Coalition.

Bill Passed, Awaiting Governor's Signature

Take a moment to contact Governor Polis’ office to urge him to sign this sensible, bipartisan bill into law without delay. 

HB19-1275 (Prime Sponsors: Rep. Weissman, Rep. Soper, Sen. Lee) will simplify the process of sealing criminal justice records, making it easier for folks with certain past offenses to move on with their lives. We were close to securing automatic expungement for now legal marijuana charges and are set to do so next year. This effort was one of the priorities of the Cannabis Equity Coalition referenced further below.