Polis signs bill prohibiting regulatory discipline for past marijuana convictions

Matt Whittaker

Colorado's capitol building.Photo byBarry Dale Gilfry via Flickr

By Matt Whittaker / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo.) Gov. Jared Polis last week signed a bill that bans regulators from denying or revoking professional credentials because of past cannabis use, cementing into law a 2022 executive order that provided similar protections.

Called the “Prohibit Professional Discipline For Marijuana” bill, the measure protects anyone applying for or holding a license, certification or registration from being denied or otherwise disciplined just because they had a civil or criminal marijuana judgment in the past.

It also prohibits regulators from denying those documents because of previous marijuana-related professional disciplinary action concerning someone’s professional licensure anywhere in the nation, as long as the actions didn’t otherwise violate Colorado law. 

Like other states, Colorado requires licenses, certifications and registrations for a variety of professions, such as teachers, engineers and acupuncturists.  

Last year, Polis signed an executive order protecting people who lawfully consume, possess, grow or process marijuana according to Colorado law from professional sanctions or license denial. 

“The exclusion of people from the workforce because of marijuana-related activities that are lawful in Colorado, but still criminally penalized in other states, hinders our residents, economy and our state,” Polis said in a statement at the time.

The local cannabis industry cheered last week’s bill signing, which was done administratively.

“By passing this bill, the governor and the legislature took formal steps to destigmatize cannabis use,” Truman Bradley, executive director with the Wheat Ridge-based Marijuana Industry Group, said in an interview. “It's also a win for the state because it means that, going forward, cannabis consumers and patients who are some of the best employees in the state are now eligible to fill those roles.”

The bill’s prime sponsors were Sen. Kevin Van Winkle (R-Douglas County), Rep. Marc Snyder (D-El Paso and Teller counties), and Rep. Matt Soper (R-Delat and Mesa counties).

It passed the Senate with only one “No” vote, cast by a Republican. Supported by 44 Democrats and five Republicans in the House, the bill passed that chamber over the objections of 13 Republicans.

According to Colorado lobbying data, the bill had no opposition from special interests.

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Matt Whittaker writes about natural resources industries, including oil and gas, mining, renewable energy, agriculture and cannabis. He's been based in the Denver metro area since 2013. You can follow him on Twitter @mattswhittaker.

Lakewood, CO

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