Senate bill aims to tighten medical marijuana laws

Patients must have a true relationship with the doctor approving the use of medical marijuana under a bill that won approval in the Colorado Senate on Monday.

Senate Bill 109, which heads to the House, is designed to create a bona fide doctor-patient relationship. It passed the Senate 34–1.

Sen. Shawn Mitchell, R-Broomfield, cast the lone dissenting vote.

Sen. Chris Romer, D-Denver, and Rep. Tom Massey, R-Poncha Springs, said they introduced the measure because of concerns too few physicians with questionable doctor-patient relationships were issuing the bulk of the certificates allowing the use of medical marijuana.

To date, 820 licensed doctors have authorized marijuana use for some 15,800 patients since voters approved its use in 2000, according to the state’s Medical Marijuana Registry. Of those, 15 accounted for nearly three-fourths of the patients, with five approving nearly half.

Lawmakers expect that number to swell to more than 60,000 patients in the next few years.

Because some doctors also were under some form of suspension, including temporarily being barred from prescribing medication, the bill was altered to ensure only doctors “in good standing” would be allowed to recommend its use.

Last week, senators removed a provision requiring follow-up treatment from the prescribing doctor.

The measure also was altered to allow patients 18–21 to get a recommendation from two doctors rather than a medical review board. The measure already had that requirement for patients under 18.

Additionally, the measure was changed to rescind that permission for patients convicted of a drug-related crime, requiring them to get approval from a court-appointed physician to continue using the herb.

The bill bars doctors who have a financial interest in a dispensary from recommending marijuana use, and requires doctors to review the medical history of a patient and give them a full exam before approving its use.


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