Young Adults Face Prejudice in CO Medical Marijuana Program


Two Colorado State Senators were very vocal yesterday, trying to drum up support for a change to Senate Bill 109 (click here). Technically, the change was already in the original version, but had to be taken out because it was unconstitutional in the previous form. Essentially, Senators Chris Romer and Nancy Spence want medical marijuana applicants who are under the age of 21 to get ‘substance abuse counseling’ before they can enter the program.

Man in Jail Bed

"Every classroom I've been in with young people, and in conversations with people in my own nuclear family, when I ask them, 'Do you know somebody under the age of 21 with a medical marijuana card who's not chronically ill?,' nine out of ten times, hands go up," said Chris Romer. "We know people are getting access when they shouldn't, and I'm a little stunned that the medical marijuana community doesn't understand that this is something the community is going to insist on. They're going to insist on a common sense set of rules for people under age 21." (click here)

Apparently, counselors will be looking for previous substance abuse problems. If they have ANY according to the counselor, they are barred from getting a medical card. If a doctor tried to override the ban, they would be reported to the Colorado Medical Board of Examiners. Last time I checked, it didn’t take 8 years of grueling college courses to become a substance abuse counselor.

Of course, there may be SOMEONE out there that put in 8 years to be a substance abuse counselor, but in most states it can require as little as a GED (disclaimer - that’s how it is in Oregon, I’m not sure in Colorado). Should a person with that type of background be able to override a person with a Medical Doctorate?? To me, it seems like the state will get to pick and choose who the counselors are, and that they will be pressured into NEVER signing a medical marijuana application for someone under 21 unless they are terminal. I have to ask; are people under the age of 21 going to be required to get substance abuse counseling before they get Vicodin?

Senator Romer estimates there are about 2,000 young adults that are in the program who shouldn’t be. "We are talking about kids having the right to walk in every day and buy some of the most potent product under current rules," said Romer. These same ‘kids’ can go into a 7-11 and buy tobacco, which has NO medicinal value; why should medical marijuana be any different, when using Romer’s logic?? The fact of the matter is that these are not ‘kids,’ they are voting, taxpaying, constitutionally-recognized adults. They should be treated as so.

Colorado lawyer Rob Corry shot down the politicians frail arguments. "Debilitating medical conditions don't know age limits," Corry said. "I don't see any burning reason to treat people in that small age bracket any differently." Romer and Spence are using a bit of legislative trickery in order to even get the provision back into the bill. Amendment 20, which is part of Colorado’s constitution, only requires one medical referral in order to get approved for the card. Romer originally pushed for 2 referrals, but it was deemed unconstitutional, as it violated due process requirements. So instead of RESPECTING THE COLORADO CONSTITUTION, Romer came up with this backdoor scheme to require substance abuse counseling. Essentially, he put new lipstick on his pig and gave it a new name.

When Amendment 20 was drafted, it had provisions written into it in order to protect REAL KIDS…You know, the ones that are under 18; which is the legal age to be considered an adult in America. They are barred from getting a medical marijuana card until they are 18, unless they have a parent’s signature. I would be fine if this age group had to have substance abuse counseling before they were approved, because after all, they are kids. However, when you are 18 you are old enough to affect the political process through direct voting, so why shouldn’t you be able to join a government program that can help you, pending approval from a person who is a doctor?