Marijuana legislative roundup: Child-neglect bills, out-of-state pot enforcement on the table
State lawmakers are working on six bills related to marijuana during this legislative session, not including the proposed budgets for the marijuana regulation divisions of the Department of Revenue and the Department of Public Health, which also have to be approved by the general assembly.
Among them are two that could arguably make all cannabis-using parents criminals and another that funnels Colorado tax dollars to out-of-state law enforcement. Read on for our roundup.
(Click over to the state legislative site for the full text of all the bills below.)
Senate Bills 177 and 178 would clarify a "drug-endangered child" with regard to child abuse and neglect cases. Both bills seem to be a second attempt from Sen. Linda Newell, a Democrat from Littleton, to create a hard definition of child endangerment that includes marijuana and doesn't take into consideration Amendment 64's passage or medical marijuana exemptions.
Senator Linda Newell.
According to the language of the SB 178; it is considered child endangerment if, "in the presence of a child or on the premises where a child is found or reside...a person knowingly cultivates, produces, possesses, uses, or attempts to cultivate, produces, possess, or use a controlled substance, as defined in section 18-18-102(5)...when any such activity poses a threat of injury to the child's life or health."
Section 18-18-102 of Colorado law clearly includes marijuana as a controlled substance, and makes no mention of any legal, allowable amount that parents can possess, grow or use.
Last year, Newell said her bill wasn't intended to go after parents who provide a "very safe home" for children but still indulge in legal alcohol and marijuana use from time to time. Instead, she argued that her measure was intended to help strengthen laws against parents already charged with neglect or endangerment.
House Bill 1196 would create a "marijuana impacts task force" to "evaluate the impacts that the cultivation, testing, sale, consumption and regulation of retail marijuana" have on local government budgets and services. The task force will comprise seventeen people -- mostly government officials and law enforcement, but with a few "marijuana community" members thrown in, to be decided by the local chapter of NORML (an organization that has pretty much been on the sidelines of any action in Colorado for the last few years) and an industry representative appointed by the local UFCW chapter, which represents a minority of dispensary workers statewide.
House Bill 1209 would create a "marijuana diversion prevention grant program," which would award money to the Colorado State Patrol to fund efforts to prevent marijuana from being taken out of state; it would also grant funding to law enforcement agencies in states that border Colorado. The money comes from tax revenue generated from Colorado retail sales of cannabis. The bill has a hefty co-sponsorship, with eight members of the House signing on so far. Senate Bill 37 would prevent people with federal-assistance cards from withdrawing cash from cash machines at medical and recreational pot shops and strip clubs. The measure was proposed following a January 2014 report by Fox31 showing that welfare money was withdrawn from nineteen dispensaries statewide.
Continue to read more about the latest marijuana-related legislation in Colorado.