Colorado: Legal Challenge Filed to Halt Imposition of Medical Cannabis Restrictions


A lawsuit has been filed challenging the implementation House Bill 1317, which imposes new rules and restrictions upon physicians who recommend medical cannabis and their patients.

Lawmakers overwhelmingly approved the legislation in June. Under the law, beginning on January 1, 2022, recommending physicians will be required to provide specific cannabis dosing regimens for their patients — a requirement that some legal experts speculate may place doctors in conflict with federal laws. No other state requires medical professional to provide patients with explicit cannabis treatment plans, and many have expressed hesitancy about counseling patients in this manner.

It also requires health care providers to conduct an assessment of patients’ “mental health history,” even in cases where patients have no pre-existing or underlying mental health issues.

For those patients ages 18 to 20 seeking a first-time recommendation, the bill requires “two physicians from two different medical practices … to diagnose the patient as having a debilitating or disabling medical condition after an in-person consultation.”

It also limits the amount of medical marijuana concentrates that a patient may legally purchase in one day to 8 grams for adults or 2 grams for those ages 18 to 20. In order to ensure compliance with these new daily limits, the state will establish and institute a new tracking system to monitor medical cannabis purchases. These changes on purchase limits also go into effect on January 1.

The lawsuit, which was filed by a 19-year-old patient who uses cannabis for the treatment of severe epilepsy, argues that the proposed changes will unduly restrict medical cannabis access among patients and will discourage physicians from participating in the program. It further argues that the broad range of significant changes proposed by the law can only be made via constitutional amendments, not by the passage of legislation. Fifty-four percent of Colorado voters decided in 2000 in favor of a constitutional amendment to establish the state’s medical cannabis access program.

NORML testified against the adoption of HB 1317, which was backed by a number of anti-cannabis organizations, including those publicly opposed to the use of herbal cannabis as a therapeutic treatment in all situations.


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