Pubdate: Thu, 12 May 2016
Source: Boulder Weekly (CO)
Column: Weed Between the Lines
Copyright: 2016 Boulder Weekly
Author: Sarah Haas


In the week leading up to the end of the Second Regular Session of 
the State Legislature, two major pieces of marijuana legislation met 
their fates.

In the first week of May, a proposal to certify organic marijuana at 
the state level was rejected in a Senate committee by a vote of 4-3, 
while Jack's Law, a bill requiring Colorado schools to accommodate 
the use of non-smokeable medical marijuana by students, passed both 
the House and Senate.

These bills are small, but significant pieces of legislation. They 
were necessitated by conflicts between state and federal laws 
concerning the rights of cannabis patients and consumers.

The measure concerning organic certification for marijuana, 
HB16-1079, was introduced in the midst of a long line of recalls for 
marijuana grown with unapproved and potentially hazardous pesticides 
in an attempt to protect consumer rights and public health.

Because cannabis is federally illegal it cannot be certified by the 
existing U.S. Food and Drug Administration Organic program, but 
claims about organic, pesticide-free and naturally grown are common 
product nomenclature in the industry. It is illegal to use the term 
without FDA approval, but so far, neither the state nor federal 
government have intervened, although The Denver Post recently 
reported that might be changing.

The bill failed under concerns that a state-run organics program 
would signify the government's endorsement of the substance as "healthy."

These sentiments echo the hard lobbying efforts against the bill from 
anti-marijuana groups and the conventional agriculture industry - a 
combination that Representative Jonathan Singer from House District 
11 remarks make "strange but effective bedfellows."

"Unfortunately [the death of the bill] is going to mean that we will 
go another year without any sort of independent, verified organic 
designation," says Singer, who is one of the bill's two sponsors. 
"Consumers have a right to know what they are putting in their body 
and people won't have access to that information."

The second, piece of legislation, HB16-1373, requires school 
districts to adopt a policy permitting students with authorization to 
use medical marijuana at school. The bill quickly passed both the 
House and Senate with broad bipartisan support, passing the Senate 
unanimously with a rare standing vote as the chamber applauded those 
who came to testify in support of the measure.

The bill is named Jack's Law after Jack Splitt, a 15-year-old 
diagnosed with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy and dystonia, who 
worked with his mother last year to allow school districts to 
establish medical marijuana policy. When school districts hesitated 
with unfounded fears of putting their federal funding at risk, it 
became clear legislation was needed to get things moving.

The bill was carried by a conservative republican, Senator Chris 
Holbert, who did not support marijuana legalization. Jack came from 
his district and when Holbert heard his story, he adopted the issue 
wholeheartedly, arguing that cancer and seizures are not partisan 
issues, instead framing them as human issues.

"This is just a real case of people understanding that your right to 
an education should never be turned around for your right to 
medication and visa versa," says Singer, who is also a sponsor on the 
bill. "There was not a dry eye in the room, and it just shows how 
people's stories can really change policy and law in the state of 
Colorado. It may be one of the biggest highlights for the session. I 
don't think I have ever seen another bill get so much broad 
bipartisan support so quickly."

Governor Hickenlooper is expected to sign the bill next month.

For once, Colorado isn't breaking new ground with this piece of 
marijuana legislation. Rather, the bill is based on successful 
measures that already passed in other states. There is a power in 
joining that community, though, as states come together to 
effectively send a message to the federal government that they need 
to be able to take care of sick kids and sick people, without fear of 
losing federal funding.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom