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Colorado Bill Would Require Schools To Store Cannabis-Based Medicines For Student Use

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“As a person that comes from a community fairly consistent in being opposed to marijuana legalization in Colorado, I’m willing to put my hand up and say I was wrong about cannabis-based medicine,” the bill’s GOP sponsor said.

When the school board refused to let their daughter, Marley, receive her cannabis-derived medicine from willing teachers, Sarah and Mark Porter made the difficult decision to pull Marley out of a Douglas County public school in October 2019.

“The last time she got out of the hospital, she never went back to school,” Mark Porter told Newsline.

In the 18 months since, Marley has been able to take her prescribed medicine regularly while learning at home—keeping her Crohn’s disease more manageable than it’s ever been, her parents testified to Colorado legislators during a February 24 hearing of the Senate Education Committee.

But Marley, now 15, is missing out on one-on-one interactions with teachers and the social aspects of school, like drama club.

“School is so much more than just learning and just education,” her father said. “No friends, no after-school activities. Nothing.”

A Colorado bill under consideration by the state Legislature aims to make life easier for kids like Marley and their families. It would require schools and school districts to have a policy allowing their employees — like the high school teacher who was willing to walk down to Marley’s middle school, had the school board permitted it — to store and administer medical cannabis recommended for a student by a doctor.

Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert, a Republican from Douglas County, said Senate Bill 21-56 is more important to him than any other legislation he’s sponsoring this session. The seven lawmakers on the Education Committee approved the bill unanimously on February 24, sending it to the Appropriations Committee for review on a yet-to-be-determined date.

“As a person that comes from a community fairly consistent in being opposed to marijuana legalization in Colorado, I’m willing to put my hand up and say I was wrong about cannabis-based medicine,” said Holbert, of Douglas County, who is partnering with Sen. Julie Gonzales, a Denver Democrat, on SB-56. “I’m perfectly willing to have conversations with constituents, doubters, to say, ‘You’re wrong. You need to meet these people.’”

Holbert’s change of heart occurred after he met constituents Amber and Brad Wann, who found a way to treat their son Ben’s life-threatening epileptic seizures: a bottle of Charlotte’s Web cannabidiol, or CBD.

The science around CBD is emerging, and it has been touted for many benefits for which research has yet to provide verification. But some recent studies support claims that it can be effective, particularly in treating certain epilepsy syndromes. “Recently, CBD has gained traction in the scientific community for its ability to treat multiple conditions,” reported Insider in November.

But when a school nurse asked Amber Wann why Ben had stopped having seizures in 2014, and learned about the cannabis-derived medicine, she reported the Wanns for potential child endangerment, Holbert said.

“The sheriff and the [district attorney] and the school district and child protection services did what they had to do, and at the end of it, they determined no, no… Giving their son Ben CBD oil was not endangering him, and bringing his seizures to an end certainly wasn’t endangering him,” Holbert told the Education Committee.

After the investigation was complete, the school’s principal allowed the Wanns to keep a cannabis-based nasal spray on campus to treat Ben’s seizures. But when the Douglas County School District Board of Education found out, they required that it be removed from the school.

“It pisses me off that my school board would somehow…decide which kid in our school district lives and which dies,” Holbert said.

SB-56 builds on other laws that were intended to help families like the Wanns.

Through a 2016 state law—known as “Jack’s Law” after Jack Splitt, the child who inspired it—school districts were required to let parents or guardians administer medical cannabis to their children on campus to treat symptoms such as seizures and severe pain. No Colorado law has ever allowed children to smoke marijuana on campus; rather, medicines containing CBD, THC or both often come in the form of oils, nasal sprays or capsules. And students aren’t legally allowed to keep the medicine on their person, even if they have a prescription.

“I hated cannabis,” Jack’s mother, Stacey Linn, testified to the committee on February 24. “But when your child almost dies, multiple times a month, sometimes multiple times a day, sometimes multiple times a week, it’s surprising what you might do.” She referred to Jack’s seizures.

“Being able to access cannabis, for Jack, saved his life and allowed him to go to school,” Linn said.

Jack, a 15-year-old who suffered from cerebral palsy, died in August 2016. But his legacy lives on.

Jack’s Law made it possible for students like Ben Wann to receive his medicine on school grounds.

However, it didn’t require school nurses and staff to administer the medicine to students as they would pharmaceutical drugs. With many children requiring multiple doses per day to keep their symptoms under control, it was a tough ask for working moms and dads to travel to schools and give their kids medicine.

“Imagine you had to leave work every day at the same time for an hour or more to get to school so that your child got their medicine,” Sarah Porter said during the hearing.

In 2018, House Bill 18-1286 became law in Colorado. Nicknamed “Quintin’s Amendment” after then-9-year-old Quintin Lovato, the bill allowed school nurses to administer medical cannabis at school for qualifying medical conditions and with a doctor’s approval. But the law left an “opt-out” clause for districts that didn’t want their employees giving kids the medicine.

After the law passed, Quintin’s school district in Eagle County allowed him to receive his medicine at school, giving him control over his seizures and tics.

So Quintin and his mother, Hannah Lovato, reappeared at the Capitol three years after HB-1286’s passage to testify in support of SB-56. Quintin updated the lawmakers on his academic and athletic accomplishments.

“Please help push this new bill through so that other kids like me have the opportunity to live their best lives, too,” Quintin told the committee members on February 24.

The bill wouldn’t force any school personnel to administer the medicine, if they don’t feel comfortable, but it does require school districts to have a policy for the storage of cannabis-based medicine on campus. The policy must allow willing school nurses, teachers or staff to administer the medicine to a student who provides a doctor’s recommendation and dosing instructions.

In addition, SB-56 protects school personnel from discipline if they choose to administer a student’s cannabis. They can’t have their state-issued licenses or certificates taken away.

“It’s in large part based on a Good Samaritan kind of perspective,” Holbert said in an interview. “If they help, they’re protected, and if they don’t want to help, they’re protected.”

The bill would increase state expenditures by around $15,000, according to its fiscal note. That money would be allocated to the Colorado Department of Education to pay for rulemaking and enforcement.

School districts could pay up to $4,200 per school for storage, staff training and staff time, but the actual costs will “depend on districts’ current policies, related resources, and the number of students with recommendations for medical marijuana, among other factors,” the bill’s fiscal note stated.

The bill contains an exception for school districts that can prove they are at risk of losing federal funding if they administer cannabis to a student. In those cases, they could refuse to store cannabis on campus.

But under the past two presidential administrations, that’s never happened in Colorado, Holbert said, and it’s not likely to happen under current President Joe Biden, even though cannabis is classified as a Schedule I narcotic under federal law.

“Anyone who is concerned about this, unfamiliar with it, take time to try to connect with people in your community who rely on cannabis-based medicine—especially kids,” Holbert said. “And what you’ll find is there are next to miraculous things happening, and completely effective medicine can be made from cannabis plants.”

This story was first published by Colorado Newsline.

West Virginia Governor Would Support Taxing The ‘Absolute Crap’ Out Of Marijuana To Replace Income Tax

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Texas Lawmakers Approve Marijuana Decriminalization Bill In Committee

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A bill to decriminalize marijuana possession in Texas—as well as a separate proposal to reduce penalties for possessing cannabis concentrates—advanced out of a key House committee on Friday.

These are the latest developments that have come after a week where Texas lawmakers have considered a medley of marijuana reform measures. But arguably the most significant piece of cannabis legislation to move out of committee would make possession of up to an ounce of marijuana a class C misdemeanor that carries a fine but no threat of jail time.

The full House of Representatives approved a cannabis decriminalization bill in 2019, but it did not advance in the Senate that session.

This time around, the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee approved the decriminalization bill, which would also prevent law enforcement from making arrests over low-level possession. Other decriminalization proposals that were under consideration by the panel this week would not prohibit that enforcement action, which is key because police are currently able to incarcerate people who are arrested for class C misdemeanors even though the charge itself does not carry the risk of jail time in sentencing.

The advancing legislation, HB 441, sponsored by Rep. Erin Zwiener (D), would also prevent the loss of a driver’s license or the creation of a criminal record for possession of up to one ounce.

Separately, the committee advanced legislation to make possession of up to two ounces of cannabis concentrates a class B misdemeanor.

Both bills were among the subjects a lengthy hearing the panel held on Tuesday.

“Marijuana bills are moving through the committee process at record speed this session,” Heather Fazio, director of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, told Marijuana Moment. “There’s good reason to be optimistic about the upcoming votes and the House and advocates will be doubling down their efforts to influence senators.”

This action comes one day after the House Public Health Committee unanimously approved a bill to significantly expand the state’s medical marijuana program.

Sponsored by Chairwoman Stephanie Klick (R), the bill would add cancer, chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder (for veterans only) as conditions that could qualify people for the state’s limited medical cannabis program.

It would further allow the Department of State Health Services to add more qualifying conditions via administrative rulemaking. And it would also raise the THC cap for medical marijuana products from 0.5 percent to five percent.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 900 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

On Thursday, the House Agriculture and Livestock Committee also discussed legislation that would make certain changes to the state’s hemp program, including imposing rules related to the transportation and testing of consumable hemp products.

While the Texas legislature has historically resisted most cannabis reforms, there are signs that this session may be different.

House Speaker Dade Phelan (R) said during a Texas Young Republicans event last month that while he wouldn’t be able to distinguish marijuana from oregano, he said, “I understand the issue.”

The speaker said that he voted for a limited medical cannabis legalization bill during his freshman year in the legislature, and his support for the reform is partly based on the fact that he has a “sister with severe epilepsy, and small amounts of CBD oil makes a big difference in people’s lives.”

Phelan also noted that he was a “joint author—no pun intended” of cannabis decriminalization legislation last session.

“I was able to go back home and explain it, and it wasn’t a big deal,” he said. “To me, it’s a reasonable criminal justice reform issue.”

Texans’ support for legalizing marijuana has grown significantly over the past decade, according to a poll released last month.

Sixty percent of state voters now back making cannabis legal “for any use,” the University of Texas and Texas Tribune survey found. That compares to just 42 percent who said the same back in 2010.

Leaders in both chambers of the legislature have recently indicated that they anticipate more modest proposals to be taken up and potentially approved this session, particularly as it concerns expanding the state’s limited medical cannabis program.

Phelan said he thinks “the House will look at” reform measures this year, including bills to legalize for adult use. He said the lawmakers will likely “review those again, and some will get traction, some will not.” However, the Senate remains an obstacle for comprehensive reform.

Legislators in the state prefiled more than a dozen pieces of cannabis legislation ahead of the new session. That includes bills that would legalize recreational marijuana, allow high-THC cannabis for medical use and decriminalize low-level possession of marijuana.

That said, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R), who presides over the Senate, has killed prior efforts to enact reform in the state, raising questions about the prospects of far-reaching changes advancing in the chamber.

Nevada Lawmakers Approve Marijuana Bill To Allow On-Site Consumption Lounges

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Nevada Lawmakers Approve Marijuana Bill To Allow On-Site Consumption Lounges

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A bill to allow on-site marijuana consumption lounges advanced through a Nevada Assembly committee on Friday. The panel separately passed a measure making it so the concentration of THC in a person’s blood cannot be singularly used to determine impairment while driving.

The social use legislation, sponsored by Speaker Pro Tempore Steve Yeager (D), would create two new licensing categories for cannabis businesses in the state. One would be for “retail cannabis consumption lounges” and the other would be an “independent cannabis consumption lounge.”

Existing retailers could apply for the former license and sell products that could be consumed on-site by adults 21 and older. Independent lounges would not be permitted to sell cannabis on their own, but would need to have marijuana products delivered to consumers from another source.

That said, independent licensees could submit a request to regulators to sell cannabis that they produce or to enter into a contract with an adult-use retailer to sell their products.

The state’s Cannabis Compliance Board would also be responsible for creating regulations for on-site facilities and setting fees for license applicants. Businesses that qualify as social equity applicants would have a reduced fee.

Under the legislation, a person “who has been adversely affected by provisions of previous laws which criminalized activity relating to cannabis, including, without limitation, adverse effects on an owner, officer or board member of the applicant or on the geographic area in which the applicant will operate” is considered a social equity applicant.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 900 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

Yeager proposed a large-scale amendment to the proposal before it was approved by the Assembly Judiciary Committee. It builds on the definition and scoring system for social equity applicants, revises public safety requirements for lounges and ensures that products purchased at lounges cannot be removed from the facility, among other changes.

The Las Vegas City Council in 2019 approved an ordinance allowing for social consumption sites within city limits.

That year, Alaska became the first state to enact regulations that provide for the on-site use option at dispensaries. Colorado followed suit with legislation approved that legalized cannabis “tasting rooms” and “marijuana hospitality establishments” where adults could freely use cannabis. Social consumption sites are also provided for in New York’s recently enacted marijuana legalization law.

In Nevada, adding new license types and giving consumers this option—especially in the tourist-centric state—could further boost marijuana and other tax revenues. And Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) has had a particular interest in ensuring that those tax dollars support public education, which he talked about during a State of the State address in January.

Sisolak has also committed to promoting equity and justice in the state’s marijuana law. Last year, for example, he pardoned more than 15,000 people who were convicted for low-level cannabis possession.

That action was made possible under a resolution the governor introduced that was unanimously approved by the state’s Board of Pardons Commissioners.

Under the impaired driving bill that separately cleared the committee on Friday, the per se blood test for THC would no longer be used in determining impairment.

Advocates have argued that the limit is arbitrary and there’s a lack of scientific evidence demonstrating a link between the amount of THC metabolites present in the blood and active impairment.

New Mexico Governor Sends Marijuana Bill Sponsors A ‘Save The Date’ For Expected Legalization Bill Signing

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Biden Gets Yet Another Congressional Letter Blasting Marijuana-Related White House Firings

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President Joe Biden has received yet another letter from a lawmaker demanding answers about his administration’s practice of firing or otherwise punishing staffers for prior marijuana use.

Rep. Angie Craig (D-MN) noted the national push to end prohibition and how the White House’s actions reveal a troubling disconnect.

“Cannabis is legal for either medical or adult use in 36 states, with numerous states pursuing efforts to further legalize for adult use,” the congresswoman wrote. “In Minnesota, our state legislature is expected to vote on measures to legalize cannabis in the coming months following years of political and community organizing by activists throughout the state.”

“Minnesotans and the American people are demanding change to our harsh and unequally applied cannabis laws,” she wrote. “I look forward to seeing your Administration reverse course on this harmful and unnecessary hurdle to hiring diverse and talented public servants.”

Craig also mentioned efforts to legalize marijuana at the federal level and commented on Biden’s prior statements on more modest reforms.

“I stand ready to work with you as we revisit our country’s drug laws, including the descheduling of cannabis as a Class 1 drug at the federal level,” she said. “You have previously expressed your commitment to decriminalizing cannabis in acknowledgement that a cannabis conviction or even the stigma of cannabis use can ruin lives and prevent people from voting, gaining employment and contributing to society.”

This is the third letter from lawmakers that Biden has been sent regarding the federal marijuana employment controversy.

A coalition of 30 members of Congress sent a letter last month that sharply criticizes the administration for terminating or punishing multiple White House staffers who disclosed their prior cannabis use. They pointed out that Vice President Kamala Harris and at least one one other Cabinet member are on record about their own marijuana use experiences.

Prior to that, Rep. David Joyce (R-OH) sent a similar message to the president condemning news of the marijuana-related firings for people who were honest about their history with cannabis on a federal form that’s required as part of the background check process.

“Simply put, in a nation where the truth is considered malleable, we need to demonstrate to our young public servants that telling the truth is an honorable trait, not one to be punished,” the congressman wrote. “I respectfully request that your administration discontinue punishment of staff for being honest about their prior cannabis use and reinstate otherwise qualified individuals to their posts.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki addressed the controversy last month, saying during a press briefing that while Biden could theoretically end the policy of firing staff over prior marijuana use himself, that’s not happening as long as cannabis is federally illegal.

She later said that the president’s stance on marijuana legalization “has not changed,” meaning he’s still opposed to the comprehensive reform.

Psaki has previously attempted to minimize the fallout over the cannabis firings, with not much success, and so her office released a statement last month stipulating that nobody was fired for “marijuana usage from years ago,” nor has anyone been terminated “due to casual or infrequent use during the prior 12 months.”

Read the new letter to Biden on White House marijuana employment policy below: 

Letter to Biden Regarding C… by Marijuana Moment

New Mexico Governor Sends Marijuana Bill Sponsors A ‘Save The Date’ For Expected Legalization Bill Signing

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