With recreational cannabis legalization comes one irritating problem. In states like Oregon and Washington, access to recreational cannabis means that medical programs have taken a hit. Fortunately, some Colorado lawmakers are doing whatever they can to ensure that patients don’t get left in the dust in the Centennial State. Two legislators have sponsored a bill that would list post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying medical cannabis condition.
After the recreational cannabis Initiative 502 passed in Washington state, legislators began to incorporate medical cannabis businesses into the new retail scheme. Unfortunately, rather than allow existing dispensaries to change models, dispensaries had to compete for a limited number of retail licenses.
In 2016, a new measure stipulated that medical dispensaries must be in compliance with recreational licensing or they were to be shut down. In all of this nonsense, patients are the ones who lost out. Hundreds of access points were closed.
However, proponents of the change argue the shift enables tighter quality control regulations for the cannabis products patients consume.
Colorado, by contrast, has integrated medical and recreational cannabis shops together more smoothly. Now, rather than diminish the medical cannabis program, lawmakers are fighting to expand the legislation.
Senator Irene Aguilar and Representative Jonathan Singer are sponsoring Senate Bill 17. This bill would allow patients with stress disorders to access medical cannabis under Colorado’s program.
Both acute stress disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) will be added as qualifying conditions.
According to the bill, what the state would consider a “debilitating medical condition” would include these stress disorders. The bill also comes with some urgency, as the sponsors explain that the act is “necessary for the immediate preservation of public peace, health, and safety.”
The bill has been introduced to the house and is currently under consideration. Though activists in the state have been encouraging Colorado to include PTSD as a qualifying condition for a few years now, Aguilar is optimistic that 2017 will be a time for serious movement on the issue.
Prior to recreational cannabis, it wasn’t uncommon for mainstream folk to shrug off medical cannabis shops as quasi-legal hotspots for recreational sales. However, this perception couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Medical cannabis patients often rely on a steady supply of comparatively large volumes of cannabis, making their total recreational costs extremely high.
Medical cannabis patients also need different types of products. For example, some PTSD patients rely on high-CBD products for daytime relief, and high-THC products at night. Recreational prices for CBD products can be extremely high, hitting patients right in their pocketbooks. In Colorado, cannabis taxes are 28% for retail sales.
SB 17 would give patients with PTSD more affordable access to their medication. If the bill passes, Colorado would be among 19 other states that allow medical cannabis for stress and anxiety disorders.
Not only would the move remove access barriers from patients, but it would help legitimize the use of medical cannabis for mental health conditions.
Colorado residents hoping to support SB 17 can call their representatives to express interest in the bill.
All phone numbers for Coloradan legislators are available on the Colorado General Assembly page at leg.colorado.gov/legislators.