Colorado House lawmakers today approved a bill to regulate concentrated THC, the active ingredient of the cannabis plant strongly associated with development of psychosis and several other mental health problems.
The bipartisan effort, led by Democratic Rep. Yadira Caraveo, a pediatrician, specifically was aimed at keeping the addictive drug out of the hands of Colorado’s youth. Young people are especially vulnerable to the harms of drug use as their brains develop, and the brain isn’t fully formed until about age 25.
Since the federal government helped open the floodgates in Colorado to sale of “medical marijuana” in 2009 and the state’s voters later sanctioned THC’s recreational sale with a constitutional amendment in 2012, families across the state have paid an increasingly heavy toll that has included increases in adolescent addiction, THC-induced psychosis and suicide attributed to THC use.
Among them is the Stack family of suburban Highlands Ranch, who tirelessly championed HB21-13-17. John and Laura Stack lost their 19-year-old son, Johnny, to suicide while he was suffering from THC-induced psychosis. Johnny was a 14-year-old high school freshman when Colorado opened its first retail cannabis stores in 2014. He maintained a 4.0 GPA and earned a perfect math score on the SAT and a significant college scholarship shortly before he died in 2019.
Until their son’s illness, the Stacks said they knew very little about ultra-high-potency and odorless THC concentrate and the means of consuming it, including vaping and dabbing. The grieving family formed Johnny’s Ambassadors, a nonprofit dedicated to delivering education about THC.
“I will be at the Capitol tomorrow for the reading of this historical bill on the House floor!” Laura Stack wrote. “My testimony will be read aloud by the Speaker of the House, and I will be there to witness it. Johnny’s death will not be in vain. His warning that marijuana ruined his mind and his life will be heard!”
The bill as introduced is summarized here.
The bill’s regulations include:
– New requirements on medical marijuana patients ages 18 to 20 years old, including approval for use by two physicians from two different medical practices and required follow-up appointments every six months after an initial visit with one of those physicians.
– A requirement that the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment create a report from emergency room and hospital discharge data of patients who presented with conditions or a diagnosis that reflect marijuana use and provide that report at the department’s annual “State Measurement for Accountable, Responsive, and Transparent (SMART) Government Act” hearing.
– A requirement that the coroner in each case of a suicide, overdose death, or accidental death orders a toxicology screen. The coroner shall report the results of the toxicology screen to the Colorado violent death reporting system. The department then produces an annual report of the data beginning January 2, 2022, and annually each year thereafter.
– The bill prohibits medical marijuana advertising specifically directed to those ages 18 to 20 years old and requires medical and retail marijuana concentrate advertising to include a warning regarding the risks of medical marijuana concentrate overconsumption.
– Limits on the amount of THC concentrate that can be purchased by one person in a day — specifically to 2 grams for anyone 18-20 years old.
HB21-1317’s Prime Sponsors
- Representative Alec Garnett, Democrat, Speaker of the House
- Representative Yadira Caraveo, Democrat and Pediatrician
- Senator Chris Hansen, Democrat, Nonprofit Director
- Senator Paul Lundeen, Republican, Minority Whip
The Colorado House lawmakers who voted against HB21-1317
- Representative Edie Hooton, Democrat, Boulder
- Representative Chris Kennedy, Democrat, Jefferson County
- Representative Patrick Neville, Republican, Douglas County
- Representative Kim Ransom, Republican, Douglas County
- Representative Shane Sandridge, Republican, El Paso County
- Representative Alex Valdez, Democrat, Denver
- Representative Kevin Van Winkle, Republican, Douglas County
- Representative Dave Williams, Republican, El Paso County