HB21-1317: Colorado Republicans fall for Democrats’ cries for public safety and assault the medical industry

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“SECTION 10. Safety clause. The general assembly hereby finds, determines, and declares that this act is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety,” reads HB21-1317. It’s NECESSARY for public health and safety…like gun laws, mask laws, and everything else rammed down Coloradoans’ throats this session.

The state of Colorado brought in $32 million dollars in taxes from marijuana in 2020; since 2014, the state has reaped $1.6 billion dollars in taxes. State law requires those funds to be dispersed among local governments, which received $2,115,909 in December 2019, as well as transportation and education sectors.

Still, Democrats continue to assault the marijuana industry, with many conservatives in Colorado jumping on board in the name of “safety.” Apparently, nobody told Senator Paul Lundeen that “safety” is the Democrat’s’ fancy word for “regulation,” and he’s getting more conservatives onboard this dangerous bill each day.

As of Monday morning, Republican Rep Tim Geitner had already signed on as a sponsor to HB21-1317. We reached out to Rep Geitner, who usually supports limited government and is quick to push back on unnecessary overreach; this story will be updated with any response.

HB21-1317, “Regulating Marijuana Concentrates: Concerning the regulation of marijuana for safe consumption,” is much more than a concentrate regulation bill. The bill requires that medical marijuana physicians consult patients’ primary care physician’s records as well as patients’ mental health records, two sets of paperwork that are usually hard to come by and difficult to obtain, in order to receive a medical marijuana card.

Additionally, the bill places the burden of prescribing marijuana strengths and dosages on the prescribing physician, a task previously prohibited by the state. Largely, marijuana prescribing physicians avoid recommending dosages because patients vary widely in medical conditions, tolerance, and desired outcomes. Don’t worry; the state legislature is so eager to regulate away the marijuana industry that it’s willing to change the existing laws in order to crush dispensary profits.

From the actual bill text, “Current law requires a doctor to conduct a full assessment of the patient’s medical history when making a medical marijuana recommendation. The bill requires that assessment to include the patient’s mental health history. If the recommending physician is not the patient’s primary care physician, the bill directs the recommending physician to review the records of a diagnosing physician or licensed mental health provider. When a practitioner makes a medical marijuana authorization, the practitioner must certify that authorization to the department of public health and environment. The bill requires the certification to include:
-The date of issue and the effective date of the recommendation;
-The patient’s name and address;
-The recommending physician’s name, address, and federal
drug enforcement agency number;
-The THC potency level of medical marijuana being
recommended;
-The dosage form;
-The daily authorized quantity;
-Directions for use; and
-The recommending physician’s signature.
The bill prohibits a physician for charging an additional fee for recommending an extended plant count or making a recommendation related to an exception to a medical marijuana requirement. The bill imposes the following requirements on medical marijuana patients ages 18 to 20 years old:
-Two physicians from different medical practices have to diagnose the patient as having a debilitating or disabling medical condition after an in-person consultation;
-One of the physicians must explain the possible risks and benefits of the medical use of marijuana to the patient;
-One physician must provide the patient with the written documentation specifying that the patient has been diagnosed with a debilitating or disabling medical condition and the physician has concluded that the patient might benefit from the medical use of marijuana; and
-The patient attends follow-up appointments every 6 months after the initial visit with one of the physicians.”

Additionally, 1317 establishes an oversight council that provides information and recommendations to the legislature…just what Coloradoans asked for-MORE bureaucratic councils and committees. Polis probably loves this bill. The council will also perform public outreach, and the bill additionally requires ongoing marijuana incident reporting by hospitals. These Democratic initiatives are expensive and restrictive.

Lundeen and a handful of confused Republicans have agreed to help push this bill through the legislature, accepting the Democrats’ assertion that Colorado needs more laws “for citizens’ safety.” Lundeen and his peers may have missed high school social studies classes; conservatives, who tout limited government, have zero business regulating anything in the name of “saving the children.” Coloradoans didn’t ask for this nanny state bill. If parents are concerned about teenage depression, they should seek counseling and regroup as a family, not with the help of the legislature.

The bill was originally written by Representative Yadira Caraveo, one of the hungriest legislatures where marijuana legislation is concerned. Why? Caraveo is a Democratic pediatrician. Her Tracer account is awash with Big Pharma contributions. Caraveo is a Big Pharma shill whose profits as a pill pusher feel the crushing blow of more patients treating themselves with a plant rather than another side-effect-laden, politically entrenched capsule of chemicals.

Caraveo’s ongoing assault on the marijuana industry is an insult to the thousands of patients in Colorado who choose to self-medicate rather than be held at the mercy of a failing medical system. Republicans who have concerned themselves with HB21-1317 are willingly assaulting an industry that has provided nearly $2 billion total dollars to a state whose economy, thanks to Jared Polis and the Democrats, is trashed.

Profit margins for dispensaries are worse than restaurants…marijuana isn’t a miracle cash crop. The increasing fees, legislation meant to cripple the industry, cost of retaining skilled and licensed employees, special insurance, and building costs land dispensaries right around the 12-15% profit margin, which is on par with the profit margins of “flower,” otherwise known as marijuana sold as a dried plant without any chemical treatments.

But dispensaries who choose to sell edibles and concentrates enjoy much higher profit margins. Edibles yield anywhere from 80-95% profits, and concentrates like wax and shatter bring in anywhere from 30-50% profits. With marijuana dispensary profits so low, about half of restaurant profits, dispensary owners use concentrates and edibles to ensure top line profits and enjoy a stronger business with which to support their families.

The ongoing attempts by democrats to regulate edibles and concentrates, as well as flower strengths, when they touted marijuana as a medical product beginning in 2010 and even prior to that, is not only disingenuous; it’s embarrassing. It’s more embarrassing that Republicans have fallen for more safety cries and agreed to pass legislation that removes more choices from Coloradoans while handing those choices over to the government.

Blue Rising, the Democrat-led group charged with assisting Caraveo in ramming through more regulations at the expense of Coloradoans, touts THC potency as a public health crisis, much like masks…Democrats are excellent at framing personal issues as public ones. And Colorado Republicans expect their legislators to protect them from deep, dark money groups like Blue Rising, which also pushes marijuana concentrate legislation as a precursor to “gun safety.”

As of April 2021, 84,197 medical patients in Colorado use marijuana for a medical or mental condition. The number of recreational patients is difficult to gauge, but since 2014, recreational users have spent $10 billion on marijuana products. Republican legislators apparently haven’t taken into account those thousands and millions of marijuana users that have choices…because this is America, not China.

The Democrat-led marijuana safety bill, which was introduced on Friday night as legislators debated heated gun bills, heads to Public & Behavioral Health & Human Services Committee on Tuesday, May 18th at 1:30pm in room HCR-0112. The committee will hear testimony from the public at that time.

Republicans have no right to regulate an industry under the guise of safety because they view doing so as virtuous or necessary. HB21-1317 is not a necessary bill, and none of this overreach in the name of safety, public health, or virtue is acceptable.

“Public health” is a term republicans must reject at full force, even if the cause seems noble. Nobility does not equate to necessity. Health is a personal matter and sometimes a familial one. Anything else is a leftist tactic, as we saw with masks and lockdowns, to force the will of a few onto the masses. Colorado legislators should be ashamed for allowing themselves to fall victim to Democratic politics. We expected better, and we elected better.

Contact the Public & Behavioral Health & Human Services Committee:

Contact the bill sponsors:

The Colorado Herald