Cannabis’s federally illegal status makes it difficult to conduct licensed clinical research on the plant and products made from it, hampering medical and commercial advancements in cultivation, extraction and ingestion. Colorado legislators got tired of waiting for the feds, and in May passed a bill that allows for state-approved research and development licenses for clinical studies on potency, chemical composition, agriculture and other areas.
HB 1367 created a licensing program within the Marijuana Enforcement Division that will issue research and development licenses for public and private studies by non-profit and government organizations and commercial businesses. But even though the bill passed months ago, its statutory language is still being tweaked; the program won’t start before 2018.
Governor John Hickenlooper didn’t sign the bill before sending it to the Colorado Secretary of State to become law. Explaining his lack of a signature, Hickenlooper called on the bill’s sponsors to present clarifying legislation at the start of next year’s legislative session, since the wording in late amendments had unintentionally limited the MED’s power to enforce contamination and potency rules.
When that legislation is introduced in early January, sections on the proposed licensee program will be a little different from what was originally envisioned. As part of the MED’s 2017 rule-making sessions, state officials, industry stakeholders and health professionals met on Thursday, September 14, to make some changes to how cannabis research will be approved and conducted in Colorado.
The four-hour discussion focused on issues ranging from how applications are reviewed to further defining what can and can’t be researched. The need to include retail cannabis in the program was immediately brought up – and widely agreed upon – by stakeholders. Business owners, Colorado officials and health-care representatives, including the Colorado Psychiatric Society, believe it’s important to include retail in studies. “Most of our patients,