Can I Use Marijuana on Probation in Colorado?

UPDATE !! 11/2016. The answer turns sideways in the right direction for medical marijuana while on state probation


Friends, if I’m reading this right, the hurdles for medicating with cannabis while on Colorado State Probation, with a current medical card from Colorado have been lowered substantially.

The language of the new statute is, to my reading, far more probation-patient friendly.

I’ve left the 2015 version of this page, discussing the previous law, for historical interest. The rate of change is simply amazing. I am thrilled to report progress for probationers, and am happy to no longer need to be retained to fight these battles except in rare circumstances. Here’s the current language:

18-1.3-204 (1)(b) Colorado Revised Statutes (C.R.S.).

Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (a) of this subsection (1), unless the defendant is sentenced to a probation for a conviction of a crime under article 43.3 of Title 12, C.R.S., the possession or use of medical marijuana, as authorized pursuant to §14 of article XVIII of the state constitution, shall not be considered another offense such that its use constitutes a violation of the terms of probation.

Legalize translated to English:

If one is on or is considering state probation for a conviction for violation of the medical marijuana law, they are almost certainly precluded from medical marijuana use while on probation. For the other proabationers, use must be according to the constitution, §14 Article XVIII, the state medical marijuana constitutional basis for medical marijuana.

That makes having and keeping a current Colorado Marijuana medical card with the underlying paperwork and maintaining ongoing conformity with the laws and limits placed on the patient card being issued by the state even more important. Lenny Frieling 11/2016

"Pot on Probation"

Leonard I Frieling 6/2015

In another forward-looking and compassionate showing of a willingness to respond to the needs of Colorado residents, the legislature for Colorado passed a new law during its latest session. House Bill 15-1267 has been signed into law by the Governor on 5/8/2015.

While representing another milestone in Colorado marijuana legalization, the new law is widely misunderstood. What does it really say? Here are the answer, directly from the new law.

18-1.3-204, amend (1) and (2) (a) (VIII) permits, in some situations, medical marijuana while on state probation. Use on parole is NOT addressed or legalized, and out-of-state probationers are also not addressed.

New language starts with providing that possession or use of medical marijuana shall NOT be considered a new offense, and therefore is not another offense to be considered a probation violation. It is NOT a violation of state probation to use medical marijuana, but beware of the limitations. This is not a blanket open-door permission. There are significant important limitations.

Now, the Court SHALL, meaning must permit medical marijuana use UNLESS the probationer is on probation for a violation of the medical marijuana law.

The Court is permitted to deny medical marijuana, and to leave it as a “probation violation” if the Judge, after seeing a substance and alcohol abuse evaluation, decides that the medical marijuana prohibition is “necessary and appropriate to accomplish the goals of sentencing” as defined by Colorado law. C.R.S. 18-1-102.5 requires the assessment in some cases.

To me, as a defense attorney, that means avoid a plea to a medical marijuana defense, and be prepared to present medical evidence, medical record, or anything else supporting the importance of continued use of medical marijuana. Pay attention to shifting from opiates to medical cannabis resulting in substantial decreases in the need for opiates. As we know, some are able to eliminate the use of opiates entirely. Of course pain management is only one of the plethora of medical/psychological conditions that for some are ameliorated with the use of medical cannabis. In Colorado, we are limited by the list of permitted condition and illnesses listed in the Colorado Constitution, Article 18 Section 20, Medical Marijuana. Additions to the list to include such challenges as PTSD and more are in the works and continue to be an active area for further progress.

In the meantime, this is another milestone in Colorado’s progress with regulating marijuana, and another contribution by Colorado to the Great Experiment that is our United States of America. We are the People, and we are finally being heard. Colorado continues to lead the way.

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