Marijuana has been legalized for medical use in 23 of the United States. It remains illegal to use it for any reason at the federal level, however. This contradiction has caused many controversies in recent years, including whether or not to allow medical marijuana patients on probation to continue medicating with cannabis.
This has been a controversy for several years in Colorado, specifically, and a recent bill aimed to end the confusion once and for all.
This issue was first brought to public attention in 2010 by the situation surrounding Leonard Watkins, a Colorado medical marijuana patient on probation following a 2005 conviction that was unrelated to the use of cannabis.
Initially, Watkins was permitted to continue using marijuana medicinally, but this decision was quickly appealed. The district attorney’s argument was that, as a convicted sex offender, he should not have the same access to “getting high.” At that time, the decision to allow Watkins to continue the use of medical marijuana was overturned.
HB 15-1267 was recently introduced to the Colorado Legislature with the intent of deciding the fate of medical marijuana users who are on probation. It was successfully passed by both the House and the Senate with little opposition, and has now become law in the Centennial State.
Rachel Gillette, Executive Director of Colorado’s NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), commented on the approval:
“This bill rights … the wrong of denying a marijuana patient’s use of his or her doctor’s … recommended treatment over (in many cases) more harmful prescription alternatives.”
According to this new law, medical marijuana users may continue to have legal access to cannabis as long as the offense for which they were convicted was not related to the misuse of medical marijuana.