Colorado legislators OK medical cannabis as opioid alternative

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Colorado lawmakers approved a measure that is likely to boost medical marijuana sales in the state by allowing physicians to recommend MMJ as an alternative to opioids.

At the same time, the state Senate gave final passage to the so-called sunset bill that extends Colorado’s regulated marijuana programs. The bill includes provisions to streamline licensing and allows retail cannabis stores to sell industrial hemp consumables.

Both measures started and were passed in the Senate, amended in the House, and repassed in the Senate.

They now go to Gov. Jared Polis, a pro-marijuana Democrat, for his signature.

Here are some business implications from the measures:
  • SB19-013: Will permit physicians to recommend medical marijuana as an alternative to opioids. This could buoy a flagging MMJ market. Colorado MMJ sales have declined as recreational cannabis sales increased. In 2017, 3.7 million opioid prescriptions were issued in the state, according to Colorado’s drug-monitoring program. State health officials reported 1,635 prescription opioid-related overdose deaths in Colorado between 2013 and 2017.
  • SB19-224: Extends the regulated marijuana industry in Colorado and puts in place regulations designed to streamline the licensing process. For example, the bill permits a licensee that has submitted a timely renewal application to operate until the application is acted upon. In addition to allowing MJ retail stores to sell industrial hemp consumables, the bill will require industrial hemp used in medical marijuana-infused products or retail cannabis products to receive testing prior to processing.