Colorado Medical Marijuana on Probation Law – FAQs
Do You Offer Free Consultations on Medical Marijuana and Probation?
No. Due to the high volume of people inquiring about MMJ use while on probation or parole we cannot meet the need of these inquiries without charging a fee for our time. Tiftickjian Law Firm charges a flat fee of $500 for a one-time consultation, up to one hour of time, to answer questions regarding medical marijuana use unless you are a current client. If you are interested in setting up a paid consultation, feel free to contact Tiftickjian Law Firm as we are well known for our experience in these areas, having appeared in numerous television and radio reports and been quoted in the New York Times.
If you are looking for information, but not interested in paying for legal advice or compensating us for our time, feel free to read the below information regarding HB 15-1267 and C.R.S. §18-1.3-204. Hopefully, this information will shed some light on the state of the current law and the court’s broad discretion to still deny MMJ use while on probation or parole.
What is HB 15-1267?
HB 15-1267 is a Colorado law that became effective on May 8, 2015, which allows individuals with Medical Marijuana Registry Cards to potentially use medical marijuana (MMJ) while on probation. While there are several exceptions to the law, the law specifically states: “the possession or use of medical marijuana as authorized pursuant to…the State Constitution, shall not be considered another offense such that it constitutes a violation of the terms of probation.”
Why was HB-15-1267 necessary?
In 2012, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that individuals who are on probation with a sentence that specifically prohibits drug use should also be prohibited from using MMJ. The decision came after the then-District Attorney for the 18th Judicial District challenged a lower court’s ruling allowing an individual probationer, Leonard Charles Watkins, to use MMJ. Following the DA’s reasoning that, “[t]here are different public safety concerns and different laws that apply to [individuals on probation] than apply to the rest of the community,” the Court of Appeals distinguished Medical Marijuana Registry Cards from pharmaceutical prescriptions and held that Colorado’s constitutional amendment allowing sanctioned use of MMJ did not grant, “an unlimited constitutional right to use the drug in any place or any manner.”
HB 15-1267 overrules the Court of Appeals’ decision in the Watkins case. With the new law under C.R.S. §18-1.3-204, individuals who have a Medical Marijuana Registry Card may use MMJ without violating the terms of their probation.
Does HB 15-1267 allow for recreational use of marijuana while on probation?
No. HB 15-1267 does not allow for recreational use of marijuana while on probation. The new law is specific to MMJ and only allows for medical use in accordance with Amendment 20 to the State Constitution (the amendment authorizing sanctioned use of MMJ).
What are the exceptions that still make it illegal to use MMJ while on probation?
HB 15-1267 has two notable exceptions to the general rule that individuals cannot be held in violation of their probation for using MMJ.
First, the general rule does not apply to individuals who have been convicted of a crime under the Colorado Medical Marijuana Code (Article 43.3 of Title 12 of the Colorado Revised Statutes). Examples of such crimes include:
- Consuming MMJ in a licensed medical marijuana center,
- Allowing someone else to use your Medical Marijuana Registry Card, and
- Illegally buying or selling MMJ.
Second, HB 15-1267 still allows the Colorado courts to prohibit use of MMJ on a case-by-case basis if, “based on the assessment as required by [applicable law], a prohibition against the possession or use of medical marijuana is necessary and appropriate to accomplish the goals of sentencing.”
As a result, judges still have a lot of leeway in deciding whether or not individual defendants should be allowed to use MMJ. This language, the rehabilitative nature of probation, and the wide discretion given to the court to ensure “probation shall be such as the court in its discretion deems reasonably necessary to ensure that the defendant will lead a law-abiding life and to assist the defendant in doing so” is often why defendants convicted of any offense involving drugs or alcohol like Driving Under the Influence or Driving While Ability Impaired are not allowed to consume medical marijuana while on probation in Colorado.
How can I protect my right to use MMJ on probation?
If you are facing possible probation and are concerned about your right to use MMJ, you should hire an attorney experienced in both criminal defense and medical marijuana law to represent you and to address this concern prior to being sentenced. Due to the volume of people inquiring about MMJ use and probation, Tiftickjian Law Firm does not provide free consultations on these matters and we do not represent individuals seeking use of MMJ post-sentencing.
Contact Tiftickjian Law Firm If You Have a Pending Case
Jay Tiftickjian and the other criminal defense attorneys at Colorado’s Tiftickjian Law Firm, P.C. are here to help you fight your pending criminal charges and protect your constitutional rights. To speak with an attorney about your situation, call (303) 384-5280 or contact us online today.