Marijuana trimmings are collected while plants are processed at a Denver warehouse in March 2014. (John Leyba, Denver Post file)

Medical marijuana for PTSD legislation heads to Colorado House for debate

Colorado legislation to add PTSD as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana is headed to the full House.

Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont, who co-sponsored the bill with Sen. Irene Aguilar, D-Denver, said he anticipates “a bumpy but positive outcome” for Senate Bill 17.

In a late-night vote Wednesday that followed seven hours of testimony, the House State, Veterans, and Military Affairs committee passed the measure in an 8-1 decision. Stephen Humphrey, R-Severance, cast the lone dissenting vote.

Singer said no significant amendments were made, other than the removal of “acute stress disorders” from the language.

2017 legislation: Track SB 17 and other Colorado marijuana- and hemp-related bills

A point of contention during the hearing was access to minors, and whether children under the age of 18 could be recommended medical marijuana for post-traumatic stress disorder, he said.

For the PTSD-related recommendation, patients 17 and under would be required to have two doctors’ recommendations, sign-offs from the minor’s parents as well as a sign-off from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, he said. The provision remains on the bill.

“We continue to keep the changes that the Senate did put in for further guardrails for a stronger conversation between doctors and patients,” Singer said.

That “guardrail” is a requirement that the patient receive a diagnosis of PTSD from a licensed medical doctor or licensed mental health professional in the context of a “bona fide physician-patient relationship.”

“The doctor-patient relationship is so sacred,” Singer said. “I really want (people) talking to a doctor.”

Singer said SB 17 likely would be heard in the House next week.

Last month, the bill cleared the Senate on a 34-1 vote. Sen. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, cast the lone dissenting vote.

The Colorado Board of Health, which has not added any new qualifying conditions to the state’s medical marijuana law since it was implemented in 2001, has denied petition requests to put PTSD on that list. Previous legislative maneuvers have stalled.

A legal challenge to the Colorado Board of Health’s 2015 ruling denying PTSD as a qualifying condition is currently before the Colorado Court of Appeals.