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Legislators consider rolling back medical marijuana restrictions

The medical marijuana restrictions are part of a law that went into effect in 2022 – advocates said the change limited patient access.

COLORADO, USA — Colorado state senators will begin debate Thursday on a proposal to roll back some of the restrictions enacted last year on medical marijuana at the urging of patient advocates and to the chagrin of the groups against lifting the restrictions. 

The bill, called the Access to Medical Marijuana Act, would reverse some, but not all, of the changes legislators passed in 2021 and enacted in 2022. Advocates said those restrictions hamper patient access to care and are to blame for a decline in the number of medical marijuana patients in Colorado last year. 

"We’ve had a very difficult year with patients losing access to products that were working well for them in the past," said Martha Montemayor, who helps people apply for a medical marijuana card in her series of clinics that stretches from Denver to Montrose. 

The 2022 law requires doctors to examine medical marijuana patients in person and give them specific recommendations about dosage, potency and products. It limits how much marijuana concentrate they can purchase in a day and imposes further restrictions on 18 to 20-year-old users. 

"We put these rules in place to protect patients and to protect these teenagers who were getting it and sharing it," said Rachel O'Bryan, the co-founder of One Chance to Grow Up, a group that lobbied for the 2022 law. 

O'Bryan said the law has worked – and points to a more than 50% drop in the number of 18-20 year-olds with medical cards in the state as proof. 

But Montemayor said the law restricts all medical users – and has resulted in doctors and patients giving up on the program. 

She supports the changes to the law, which include removing the requirement that doctors see patients in person -- except 18-20-year-old first-time applicants – and no longer mandating them to give patients specific recommendations on dosage. It would also allow patients to buy more concentrated marijuana at once. 

"We need to pass this law to improve access to your friends and neighbors with chronic, debilitating conditions who were using this medicine before and need to continue to use it," she said. 

O'Bryan disagreed. "It is going to undo all the common sense protections put in place just two years ago," she said. 



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