Colorado Governor Sent Bill to Ban Denial of Professional Licenses Over Marijuana Use

The Colorado Legislature has sent legislation to Governor Jared Polis that prevents the Department of Regulatory Agencies from denying applications for professional licenses and certifications based solely on a civil or criminal judgement regarding the consumption, possession, cultivation, or processing of marijuana.

(Photo Credit: Claire Caulfield/KJZZ)

Senate Bill 265 was sent to Governor Polis yesterday after being signed by the president of the Senate on Thursday and then by the speaker of the House the following day. The final vote in the Senate was 32 to 1, with the final House vote being 49 to 13. The legislation was filed by Senator Kevin Van Winkle along with a bipartisan coalition of 17 cosponsors.

“DORA is our agency that regulates professional licenses. Everything from optometrists to nurse practitioners, you name it,” said Representative Marc Snyder, one of the bill’s sponsors. “Trying to get more people, eligible people, into the workforce, and looking to remove barriers that are unnecessary, and have a real hindrance to people in getting new opportunities.”

Snyder continues: “It’s part of that greater movement to recognize that the war on drugs, and a lot of the criminalization that we had before, has kind of reached its expiration date. It does have relevancy to the social equity movement, which is also basically designed to ease the burden and rehabilitate the records of people that were also disproportionately impacted by the so called war on drugs.”


According to its official summary, the bill “prohibits regulators within the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) from denying applications for licensure, certification, or registration, or taking disciplinary action against a licensee, certificate holder, or registrant, based solely on a civil or criminal judgement regarding the consumption, possession, cultivation, or processing of marijuana.”

The action underlying the judgement “must have been lawful and consistent with professional conduct and standards of care within Colorado, and not have otherwise violated Colorado law.” These requirements “also apply to consideration of previous professional discipline in Colorado or any other state.”

“DORA is our agency that regulates professional licenses. Everything from optometrists to nurse practitioners, you name it,” said Representative Marc Snyder, one of the bill’s sponsors “Trying to get more people, eligible people, into the workforce, and looking to remove barriers that are unnecessary, and have a real hindrance to people in getting new opportunities.”

He continues: “It’s part of that greater movement to recognize that the war on drugs, and a lot of the criminalization that we had before, has kind of reached its expiration date It does have relevancy to the social equity movement, which is also basically designed to ease the burden and rehabilitate the records of people that were also disproportionately impacted by the so called war on drugs.”

The full text of the proposal can be found by clicking here.

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