You are currently viewing Natural Medicine Advisory Bulletin 10.1: Legislative Update

Natural Medicine Advisory Bulletin 10.1: Legislative Update

Written by the Vicente LLP team as part of our Colorado Natural Medicine Health Act Tracker.

On April 4, 2024, the Colorado General Assembly introduced Senate Bill 24-198, the first legislative update since the passing of SB 23-290 in 2023, which implemented the Natural Medicine Health Act. This relatively short bill clarifies several ambiguities and gaps in the original bill that were identified as the Natural Medicine Advisory Board (“NMAB”) worked through the recommendation process, as well as clarifying certain language. The Board recognized three specific statutory issues that could pose issues for the regulated natural medicine program.

First, the statutes, as written, were ambiguous as to whether a natural medicine cultivator or natural medicine product manufacturer would be permitted to transfer natural medicine directly to a facilitator. Absent this allowance, facilitators would be required to obtain natural medicine from healing centers, potentially creating a bottleneck as well as inflated prices for natural medicine if healing centers chose to mark prices up. SB24-198 makes explicit that facilitators may obtain natural medicine from cultivators and producers directly.

Second, the previous statutory language prohibited co-location of natural medicine testing facilities with regulated cannabis testing facilities. Many professionals in the testing market expressed concern that the volume of natural medicine testing could be insufficient to exclusively support a business. This change drastically increases the economic viability of testing laboratories in the natural medicine industry.

Third, a statutory licensure exemption for “bona fide religious, culturally traditional, or spiritual ceremony” was asked to be clarified so that traditional indigenous practitioners can receive remuneration for their services that occur outside of the regulated framework. Currently, language allows the exemption only when it is not associated with “Commercial, business, or for-profit activity.” Many members of the NMAB, and the natural medicine community more broadly, feel that indigenous practitioners should be permitted to be compensated for their services. This issue was not addressed in this bill, and requires a delicate balance of not criminalizing Indigenous practitioners for their traditional practices, while protecting both the Indigenous community from commercialization of their traditions and the public from bad actors exploiting the exemption.

SB24-198 makes some minor clarifications as well. The “Director”, previously defined as the Director of The Division of Professions and Occupations (“DPO”), now refers to the director of the newly created “Natural Medicine Division,” within the Department of Regulatory Agencies (“DORA”). The revised legislation grants broad authority to the Director to approve and oversee facilitator training programs. The bill also bolsters language related to testing standards to be set in collaboration with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (“CDPHE”) and DOR, requiring standards for laboratories as well as notification of failed test results.

SB24-198 also adjusts the language of C.R.S. § 44-50-203, which prohibits certain concurrent financial interests in natural medicine business licenses, from “person” to “individual,” presumably to allow business entities to hold financial interests.

Finally, the bill corrects the spelling of “psilocin” throughout, which was previously spelled incorrectly.

While SB24-198 is still in its infancy, it is encouraging to see the state legislature move quickly on these issues to ensure a workable, sustainable, and equitable natural medicine market in Colorado. The next step for the bill is review by the Finance committee, which will take place on April 11, 2024.

As formal rulemaking approaches, there will be increasing opportunities for public engagement. Stay tuned to our Natural Medicine Advisory Bulletin for the latest news on Colorado’s natural medicine program, as well as upcoming opportunities to get involved.

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Visit our Colorado Natural Medicine Health Act Tracker

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