On Thursday, April 6, 2017, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed SB17-178 into law. The bill seeks to impede the Colorado courts from imposing orders on criminal defendants, which would force them to abstain from the medical use of marijuana, as a condition of their bond while they are awaiting trial.
Typically, criminal defendants are subject to more severe penalties such as additional charges or bond revocation, for using cannabis while awaiting trial, regardless of whether the use is pursuant to a valid prescription. This is largely due to the fact that cannabis is still classified as a narcotic by the federal government and most states, and as a result it has an enormous negative stigma attached.
However, those days are in the past, and a user of medicinal marijuana with a valid card in Colorado, no longer has to choose between ignoring the health condition that prompted their lawful use of cannabis, in order to keep from violating their bond, or treating the illness at the risk of going to jail.
With public opinion seemingly shifting towards the acceptance of the medicinal qualities that cannabis can offer suffering patients, states like Delaware, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Texas, Kentucky, New Mexico, Vermont, and Missouri, are all expected to entertain discussions in their 2017 legislative sessions, geared towards legalization, either via a medical license, or a recreational status legalization. This bill is just one example of the State of Colorado continuing to blaze the path towards reasonability.
Because Colorado was the torch bearer for the shift in public opinion, the legislators are a few years ahead of the game in dealing with ancillary issues that come along with cannabis’ legalization. One of the most prevalent arguments by the opposition to cannabis’ legalization is that, due to the ease with which it can be grown and cultivated, enforcement of laws against black and gray market growers and sellers, is challenging to say the least. Again, Colorado has an answer with HB17-1221.
This bill creates an enforcement grant program with an initial allocation budget of nearly six million dollars, to be used to reimburse local governments for their efforts in utilizing law enforcement resources to investigate and charge black and gray market sellers and cultivators.
Additionally, SB17-015 tackles the ever evasive advertising market for cannabis, by making it a level two drug misdemeanor for anyone who is not licensed to do so, or a primary caregiver of a person with a valid cannabis prescription, to advertise for the sale or distribution of marijuana on the internet or elsewhere.
With the world taking notice, Colorado has improved the state all around, simply by accepting both the medicinal and economic power of cannabis. The lives of patients across the state, citizens who enjoy recreational cannabis, as well as the budgetary ambitions of the state legislature, have all been enriched with a little healthy debate, and the stroke of the pen. It may be a surprise to some, but the world didn’t actually end; it got better. As is the case with any new program implementation, issue have arisen, and Colorado has taken reasonable steps to combat them as they do, while still exploring the seemingly endless positive dimensions of cannabis.
This plant has so much potential to completely reshape the mental health community as we know it, as well as the chronic pain management industry, which causes so much physical addiction and pain to families around the world.
With any luck, and a little more healthy debate from all facets of the political spectrum, marijuana will be accessible for the benefit of patients, enthusiasts, and budgets across the country, and the federal government will abandon its effort to wage a war on one of the miraculous and healing plants ever discovered.