Summary of the Colorado Sunset Review of Cannabis Laws

Colorado Marijuana Code- 2018 Sunset Reviews

In 2019, the Colorado medical and retail marijuana programs are scheduled to ‘sunset’. This ‘sunset’ means that the medical and retail licensing codes will expire unless the Colorado General Assembly affirmatively acts to extend the codes.

As part of this process, the Colorado Department of Regulatory Affairs (DORA) conducts an evaluation of the medical and retail marijuana codes, solicits input from stakeholders, and then issues a sunset report making certain recommendations regarding the medical and retail marijuana codes.

DORA recently released its sunset report on the medical and retail marijuana programs.

This post helps summarize the main findings from those reports.

Key Recommendation

Thankfully, DORA recommends that the Medical and Retail Marijuana programs be continued. In addition, DORA recommends that the Medical and Retail codes be integrated into a single code to increase efficiency and resolve compliance difficulties that arise from there being two separate codes.

Other Important Recommendations

  1. Ownership Terminology: Revise terminology related to the ownership of licensed marijuana businesses. Streamline the ownership categories into more easily recognizable, and ideally more useful, categories such as controlling beneficial owners, passive beneficial owners and indirect financial interest holders. These are commonly used business terms outside of the marijuana industry.
  2. License Renewals: Streamline the License Renewal Process keeping in mind local jurisdiction renewal timelines.
  3. Research and Development Licenses: Consolidate the research and development license and the research and development cultivation license types into a single license type and authorize discipline other than license revocation.
  4. Injunctive Relief: Authorize the Executive Director to seek injunctive relief from the district court. This would allow the Executive Director to petition the court to order a licensee to comply, or to order an unlicensed operation to cease operations.
  5. Confidential Records: Reevaluate which records in the possession of the Executive Director should be confidential and which should be open to public inspection.
  6. Background Checks: Amend the licensing suitability requirements regarding criminal convictions to prohibit the issuance of a license for three years from the date of conviction, but permit the Executive Director to consider an applicant’s criminal character or entire criminal record to the extent it poses a threat to the regulation or control of marijuana.
  7. Medical Marijuana
    1. Equivalency Standards: Establish equivalency standards for medical marijuana products and concentrates similar to the equivalency standards in place for retail marijuana. This would provide medical marijuana licensees more direction regarding how much product their patients can purchase and possess when the marijuana is in a form other than a flower or plant.
    2. Apply Colorado Food and Drug Act to Medical Marijuana: Th Colorado Food and Drug Act already applies to retail marijuana. This recommendation would harmonize the medical and retail code. The Act regulates where manufactured foods are produced, manufactured, packed, processed, prepared, etc.
  8. Industrial Hemp:
    1. Testing: Require that hemp derived CBD that enters the retail or medical marijuana regulatory system be tested.
    2. Allow Sale of Non-marijuana consumables: Allow retail marijuana stores to sell industrial hemp derived non-marijuana consumables.

Next Steps

DORA will present these recommendations to the Colorado State Senate during the 2019 legislative session. These recommendations will then likely be adopted into a sunset bill that will include the entirety of the medical and retail marijuana codes.  This bill will need to be passed by the legislators by the end of the legislative session in May, and then signed by the Governor.

This sunset process provides a unique opportunity for regulatory problems to be fixed, but also provides opportunities for anti-marijuana activists and other special interests to change the code.

If you have questions regarding the sunset reviews and the potential impact on your business, contact McAllister Garfield, P.C. today.

Click here to access the sunset reports: