Denying a Probationer’s Use of Medical Marijuana Causes Unnecessary Harm

April 08, 2015

Update

On May 8, 2015 Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed HB-1267 into Colorado Law. You can read the final bill here.


Almost 15 years ago Colorado voters approved the use of medical marijuana under Colorado’s Constitutional Amendment 20. This vote acknowledged the emerging science validating marijuana's medicinal properties. As of today, 23 states and the District of Columbia have approved the use of medical marijuana. Unfortunately, Colorado Courts resisted this evolution, officially denying a probationer’s use of medical marijuana while on probation in 2012 with the Colorado Court of Appeals ruling in People v. Watkins.

Colorado NORML believes forcing a patient to discontinue their physician-recommended treatment with medical marijuana while on probation causes unnecessary harm. Currently, probationers in Colorado are permitted to use a variety of (prescribed) drugs on probation, including dangerous opiates, “benzos”, and other psychoactive drugs. Sadly though, probationers who had previously discontinued or reduced their use of these dangerous drugs are denied use of medical marijuana, forcing them to go back to the more dangerous prescription alternatives, resulting in potential re-addiction and a lower quality of life.

The Arizona Supreme Court this week issued two rulings barring courts and prosecutors from denying marijuana use as a term of probation if the convicted probationers have valid medical-marijuana cards.

We believe Colorado, through legislative action, should rectify the harm caused by Watkins in denying a patient’s use of medical marijuana while on probation. In Colorado, Rep. Joe Salazar's Medical Marijuana on Probation Bill (HB-1267) will be heard by the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, April 9th, 2015 at 1:30pm. Colorado NORML urges our state legislators to support this important bill. We believe the use of medical marijuana while on probation is not contrary to the purpose of probation, similarly to the Arizona Supreme Court. However, to deny its use for those whom have been recommended its treatment by their physician is unnecessarily cruel, and causes more harm than good.

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