Colorado Medical Marijuana Probation Law FAQs

Colorado Medical Marijuana Probation Law FAQs

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 use medical marijuana (MMJ) while on probation. While there is a couple of exceptions, the new 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, individuals who have a Medical Marijuana Registry Card can 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 exceptionsnate 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 will still have some leeway in deciding whether or not individual defendants should be allowed to use MMJ. It remains to be seen whether and to what extent judges will rely on this exception in order to bypass HB 15-1267’s new general rule.

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. Attorney Jay Tiftickjian is well known for his experience in these areas, having appeared in numerous television and radio reports and been quoted in the New York Times.

Contact Tiftickjian Law Firm, P.C. for More Information

Jay Tiftickjian and the other criminal defense attorneys at Colorado’s Tiftickjian Law Firm, P.C. are here to help you fight your criminal charges and protect your constitutional rights. To speak with an attorney about your situation, call (303) 384-5280 or contact us online today.