Colorado House Committee Approves Bill Adding Autism Spectrum Disorders To Cannabis Program

House lawmakers in Colorado have progressed a bipartisan bill to add autism spectrum disorders (ASD) to the list of qualifying conditions for the state’s medical cannabis program.

HB1028 was sponsored by Representatives Edith Hooton [D] and Kim Ransom [R] as well as Senators Donald Coram [R] and Stephen Fenberg [D]. The bill was introduced on January 4, and the House Health and Insurance Committee voted 10-1 to approve it on Wednesday, January 23.

On June 5, 2018, then-governor of Colorado, John Hickenlooper, vetoed the previous version, HB1263, which would have also included acute pain.

“In vetoing this bill, we do so on sole concern that medical efficacy of MMJ to treat ASD has yet to be fully studied by medical professionals and scientific experts entrusted to this role at DHPE,” wrote Hickenlooper in a letter to the House following his veto. “However, we are persuaded by the proponents that, while research is lacking at present, the use of MMJ to treat individuals with ASD is worthy of expedited analysis to inform whether its use by children with ASD is safe.”

Currently, to qualify to use medicinal cannabis in Colorado, a patient must have cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, cachexia, persistent muscle spasms, seizures, severe nausea, severe pain, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The new bill would add ASD to the list of disabling medical conditions for medical marijuana use.

The House approved the second reading of HB1028 on Friday with no amendments. Should the full legislature vote to pass the bill and send it to Governor Jared Polis [D], he is expected to sign it.