Prior to the passage of House Bill 15-1267, probationers in Colorado were prohibited by law from engaging in the use of medical marijuana to treat their conditions. C.R.S. §18-1.3-204 stated that probationers must lead a “law-abiding life.” This was interpreted by Colorado courts as requiring probationers to abstain from the use of marijuana, even if that use were of a medical nature, because marijuana use is still illegal under federal law. Needless to say, this placed a high degree of hardship on patients with particularly severe illnesses who were deprived of medically necessary treatment.
Thanks to House Bill 15-1267, signed into law on May 8, 2015 by Governor Hickenlooper, probationers in the state of Colorado are no longer automatically prohibited from using medical marijuana as a result of their probationary status. The bill, which passed overwhelmingly in both the Colorado House and Senate, instead exempts the use of medical marijuana from this mandate, stating that: “the possession or use of medical marijuana, as authorized pursuant to Section 14 of Article XVIII of the state constitution, shall not be considered another offense such that its use violates the terms of probation.”
While probationers are still required to lead a “law-abiding life,” this new law effectively establishes that in the state of Colorado, such a life may, for some, include the use of medical marijuana. Not all Colorado probationers will be eligible for the use of medical marijuana as a result of this legal change. If the probation-inducing defense were a violation of the Medical Marijuana Code of Colorado, such a probationer would not be allowed to use medical marijuana. Furthermore, judges retain discretion to prohibit the use of medical marijuana if the judge believes such a prohibition would be necessary for the probationer to otherwise “accomplish the goals of sentencing”. But overall, HB 15- 1267 is a boon to many patients on probation who are now able to access the medical treatment they need.
HB 15-1267 has been added to the Colorado statutes as C.R.S. §18-1.3-204(1)(b) and (2)(a)(VII)