Some Marijuana Measures Still Up in the Air at LegislaturePosted by On

Marijuana joint and money

Colorado’s 2020 legislative session is about to resume on May 26, and several marijuana-related measures  remain on the table.

No one expected this year’s session to be as cannabis-sexy as it was in 2019, when the General Assembly approved new laws authorizing marijuana delivery, social consumption businesses and a massive update to industry rules and regulations, such as allowing publicly traded ownership of marijuana companies. This year’s session wasn’t supposed to be a snoozefest, either, with hyped proposals that would address diversity in pot-industry ownership and statewide expungement of former low-level pot crimes.

Then COVID-19 sent legislators home in April, with a halt on new bills. The expungement bill is likely dead until 2021, while efforts to legislate diversity in the state’s pot industry are ongoing but dwindled. Before the shutdown, however, legislators had already passed two measures and considered bills that would protect employees from being fired for using marijuana during off-hours (that bill is now dead) and protect outdoor marijuana farmers during weather emergencies.

Here’s a breakdown of the ten marijuana- and hemp-related bills and legislative resolutions introduced at the Colorado General Assembly in 2020 (the summaries come from the text of the bills themselves), as well as their current status:

HB 1080: Remove Residency Requirement for Marijuana License

Prime sponsors: Representative Matt Gray (D-District 33), Representative Kevin Van Winkle (R-District 43), Senator Julie Gonzales (D-District 34), Senator Vicki Marble (R-District 23)

Summary: Under current law, all managers and employees of a medical marijuana business or a retail marijuana business with day-to-day operational control must be Colorado residents when they apply for licensure. The bill repeals this residency requirement.

Status: Passed both houses; awaiting governor’s signature.

HB 1089: Employee Protection Lawful Off-Duty Activities

Prime sponsors: Representative Jovan Melton (D-District 41)

Summary: The bill prohibits an employer from terminating an employee for the employee’s off-duty activities that are lawful under state law even if those activities are not lawful under federal law.

Status: Postponed indefinitely by House Business Affairs & Labor Committee.

HB 1150:
Repeal House Bill 19-1263 Penalties for Drug Possession

Prime sponsors: Representative Hugh McKean (R-District 51)

Summary: House Bill 19-1263, enacted in 2019, made changes relating to the offense level for possession of certain controlled substances and sentencing therefore, and enacted the community substance use and mental health services grant program.

The bill repeals provisions enacted by House Bill 19-1263 and reinstates provisions repealed by that act. The bill makes possession of 4 grams or less of a controlled substance listed in schedule I or II a level 4 drug felony, possession of more than 12 ounces of marijuana or more than 3 ounces of marijuana concentrate a level 4 drug felony, and possession of 3 ounces or less of marijuana concentrate a level 1 drug misdemeanor.

The bill clarifies that a person may be arrested for the petty offense of possession of not more than 2 ounces of marijuana and that a person may not be sentenced to confinement in jail for a first offense of abusing toxic vapors.

The bill prohibits a court from suspending a sentence to complete useful public service pursuant to the “Uniform Controlled Substances Act of 2013” (act) and requires a court to sentence a person to complete useful public service if the person receives diversion or a deferred sentence. Any person convicted of a drug offense must submit to the fingerprinting and photographing requirements of the act.

The bill clarifies that persons convicted of level 1 or 2 drug misdemeanors related to unlawful use of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana or marijuana concentrate, unlawful use or possession of certain synthetic controlled substances, or abusing…

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