Autism for MMJ Bill Passes Committee, Acute Pain Doesn't

Advocates pushing to include autism spectrum disorder in Colorado’s list of conditions that qualify for medical marijuana took a small but victorious step forward last night, April 5. But those who supported adding acute pain to the list weren’t as successful.

After over five hours of public testimony and deliberation, a House committee voted in favor of a bill that would add ASD to the state’s list of conditions treatable by medical marijuana. Introduced by Representative Edie Hooton, HB 1263 will now go in front of the entire House for consideration. Hooton was undoubtedly pleased for the families of autistic children who’d approached her in hopes of including ASD in her initial proposal, but the lawmaker couldn’t help but feel conflicted at the end of the day.

Hooton had originally written the bill to address Colorado’s opioid epidemic, hoping that qualifying acute pain (pain that lasts anywhere from ninety days to six months) for medical marijuana would give doctors an option to opioid pain medication when treating patients recovering from surgeries and other procedures. “The majority of the testimony here today was for autism, but the original inspiration I had was to give physicians an alternative,” Hooton said during the House Health, Insurance, & Environment Committee hearing.

Unfortunately for those hoping to see acute pain added to the list, a narrow majority of Hooton’s colleagues weren’t comfortable with that proposal, and said they wouldn’t vote for the bill unless an amendment passed removing acute pain but keeping ASD. Faced with the choice of picking either one or none, Hooton relented. With only ASD remaining on the bill, it passed 12-1.

“Medical marijuana is a viable option for these children,” Representative Jovan Melton, a co-sponsor of the bill, said during the hearing. “That’s really what we’re trying to get — is creating additional

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