Colorado Courts Deciding Details of Restricting MMJ use While on Probation

In 2015, House Bill 15-1267 was passed allowing medical marijuana patients the right to use MMJ on probation in Colorado, if the crime committed was not related to marijuana. Prior to the passing of this law, medical marijuana patients faced a difficult choice; give up their MMJ doctor’s recommended cannabis treatment or face a probation violation. The new law was supposed to provide a black and white answer on the question of using medical marijuana on probation in Colorado, but in the intervening years the issue has become unclear, with questions and arguments over the burden of proof required, as well as the necessity for medical marijuana use while on probation.

A 2016 case involving a Colorado woman who was denied the right to use her medical marijuana while on probation for a DUI may help clarify the ground rules involving this issue. The county court judge presiding over this case prohibited the woman from using her MMJ on probation in Colorado, saying the court did not have enough evidence to prove its necessity because the defendant had not produced a physician to offer live testimony in court, a universal requirement imposed by the judge. A district court judge agreed with the county court and upheld the decision.

The Colorado Public Defender’s Office, which represented the defendant, contended that the court abused its discretion and violated the woman’s constitutional rights with this ruling by placing an undue burden on her to produce live testimony from her doctor. The defendant did produce both her state-issued medical marijuana card along with documentation of the medical need for her MMJ on probation in Colorado at the plea and sentencing hearing. Her probation officer recommended that she refrain from alcohol and attend alcohol education classes but did not suggest or recommend that she be prohibited from medical marijuana use.

One Deputy State Public Defender representing the defendant in the Supreme Court said in a written statement, “Colorado courts frequently impose conditions of probation that are not related to the crime committed or to the defendant’s specific needs. Imposing onerous and unnecessary conditions makes the successful completion of probation difficult, if not impossible. The system should help people become successful, not overburden people with conditions that are unwarranted, unnecessary, and in this case, we believe unconstitutional.”

If you’re a medical marijuana patient-facing criminal charges in Colorado, it is important to speak with an attorney who can defend your right to continue to use your medical marijuana on probation in Colorado and be prepared to present all state documentation supporting the medical necessity of treatment. The Supreme Court decision on this issue has not yet been released; when it is, more definitive answers should be forthcoming.

Medical Alternatives Clinic in Colorado Springs exists to help you discover the best possible treatment option for your situation and offer our recommendations on which medical marijuana treatment may work for you. Give us a call today at (719) 246-0393, or email us at to request an appointment. We are happy to provide you with a copy of any paperwork you need for your records.