Marijuana Regulation Changes for 2022

Changes to Colorado Regulated Marijuana rules for 2022

The excellent state of Colorado has many attractions and important reasons to live here. We are commonly listed among the top states in the nation to live in across a whole host of metrics. There is no denying that a tiny part of that larger picture is Colorado’s robust medical and retail marijuana access.

Marijuana has been legal medically in Colorado since 2000 and recreationally legal since 2013. During that time, there have been many shifts and changes to state laws to bring the two systems together and alleviate some growing pains. That process was continued significantly this year with the enactment of House Bill 21-1317, the first significant change across Colorado Marijuana laws in the last few years.

New Mandated Marijuana Research

To better understand the effects of THC and, more importantly, high-potency Marijuana products, the Colorado Legislature has directed various state agencies to begin the process of gathering and reviewing all available “scientific, evidence-based research regarding the possible physical and mental health effects of high-potency marijuana products regardless of the location of the research.

The Colorado School of Public health must assess all this data, identify gaps in research and available data, and create a review and report of this data and plans to address those gaps. It must also create a Council of Scientific Review, which shall recommend to the Colorado General Assembly its findings from these reports and reviews.

The Colorado Department of Health and Environment has been tasked with creating an anonymous list of hospital and emergency room discharge data indicating patients’ age, race, ethnicity, gender, and geographic location. This list must include patients with conditions or a diagnosis indicating marijuana use or use with other substances.

Finally, The Association of Coroners must establish a working group tasked with studying methods to test for all controlled substances and THC to determine how long ago it was consumed and whether it was in conjunction with other drugs. This methodology will test all non-natural deaths of persons under twenty-five, excluding homicide victims. This data will be collected and used to create a report identifying substances with a high potential for overdose and addiction.

Changes for Medical Marijuana Patients under 21

One of the most sweeping changes relates to medical patients under the age of twenty-one regarding purchase limits, product access, and even licensing in general. These changes coincide with the mandated research and aim to reduce the use of teens’ and young adults’ high-potency marijuana products state-wide (please note: the linked article does not review the final version of the law, things have changed since the article was written).

To start, anyone under twenty-one seeking a medical marijuana license will now require the authorization of two doctors from different medical practices. One of those doctors must review the documentation of the underlying diagnoses and explain to the patient the possible risks and established benefits of marijuana use, including written documentation of the recommendation.

If approved, this younger age group of patients must also attend follow-up appointments with one of the two referring physicians every six months.

Doctors’ Recommendations Have Changed Too

For all patients, a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana must now include a recommended product, a maximum recommended THC potency, and directions for use. Doctors in Colorado must now use a new unified form to submit these recommendations.

The new law has gone so far as to require and define a “bonafide physician-patient relationship.” Physicians are now required to review a patient’s medical history, including identifying any history or condition that may be exacerbated by marijuana use. If the recommending physician is not the patient’s primary doctor, they must also review all medical information relating to the diagnosis for which the patient is seeking their license.

Doctors who issue medical marijuana regulations must now also participate in five hours of continuing education related to medical marijuana every two years.

Directives for Rules Changes

Sometimes the legislature will demand that certain government divisions take action to make a change rather than ask for recommendations. This has been the case in House Bill 21-1317, and there are a few new rules that the State Licensing Authority must complete.

Again, the significant motivator here is curbing the use of concentrates among young adults, so the primary rule changes support those new requirements. The state-wide inventory tracking system must now support the ability to receive and report a patient’s daily purchase amounts in real-time. The coming systems for marijuana delivery and marijuana hospitality licenses have been included in these requirements.

Guidance is now required that gives a recommended serving size of marijuana concentrate, a visual representation of that serving, new labeling requirements, and possibly even a measuring device for a recommended serving. All of this is intended to be provided by medical and retail shops to patients or customers when purchasing concentrates.

Changes for Medical and Retail Marijuana Businesses

During its pendency, one of the most contentious and debated portions of this bill was the changes regarding purchase limits for marijuana concentrates. Thankfully, in its final iteration, the new law keeps a sensible limit and allows exceptions when necessary.

Medical and Recreational Marijuana Stores are now limited to selling an individual over twenty-one only eight grams of concentrate daily, down from the previous medical limit of forty. A medical patient under twenty-one is now limited to just two grams daily. To ensure these limits are not breached, all stores must directly verify a patient has not exceeded the limits before purchase, and purchase quantities must be recorded in the inventory system immediately.

Now completed by the State Licensing Authority, both types of marijuana stores will be required to present persons looking to purchase marijuana concentrate with this tangible educational resource material regarding the potency, risks, and responsible consumption of those products.

And finally, Medical Marijuana Stores are now required to prohibit sales to patients using a pending application from Monday thru Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. They must call the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to verify if the application has been denied. If the patient’s application has been denied, it must now be confiscated and remanded to the state or local authorities within seventy-two hours.

Changes to Colorado Marijuana Advertising

And finally, we get to why everyone came here in the first place. I am sorry to save the best for last; I was doing my small part to ensure everyone paid attention to the new rules.

If you’ve been reading my articles up till now and following the rules closely, these new changes will only affect your day-to-day operations a little. Medical Marijuana Businesses are now prohibited from advertising targeting those under 21, but that doesn’t include general campaigns. Frankly, you’d have to be an idiot to target that specific age group for mass-market advertising anyways.

Going forward, any opt-in marketing systems must include an easy opt-out feature. This means your daily texts and email reminders, or any push notifications you may send, must have an easy method of making them stop. The State Licensing Agency is tasked with making rules regarding any media that may reach those under twenty-one or eighteen, depending on your market, so keep an eye out for those too.

And finally, one last stab at concentrates: any marketing or advertising media explicitly relating to concentrate must now include a warning of the potential risks of overconsumption.

Business As Usual

If you are a responsible Colorado Marijuana Business owner, none of these changes should bother you. If you have any questions or are concerned your next marketing plan may run afoul of these new rules, reach out to Firm Foundations Consulting. Too many people chose not to advertise out of caution, and Colorado residents suffer.

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