March14, 2016

   There seems to be no end to the legislation pertaining to the regulation of marijuana. House Bill 16-1214 was postponed indefinitely on February 26th. If passed and enacted,  it would have made several changes to the regulation of medical marijuana centers and primary caregivers, increased penalties for illegal marijuana cultivation and limited court awards for damages to medical marijuana plants that have been seized by law enforcement.

   HB 1214 included a significant provision that allowed for a medical marijuana center to exempt discounted or donated medical marijuana from its optional premises cultivation license production limit. Perhaps lawmakers quickly recognized the loophole such passage of the bill would have created. (Under current law, a medical marijuana center may sell medical marijuana below cost or donate it to an indigent patient or one who is in hospice care.)

 Senate Bill 16-147:  Suicide is still a subject spoken of in hushed tones much like it was in the "olden days," but it is still occurring and too often now the cases involve teenagers and veterans.

   The legislative declaration for SB 147 is lengthy and presents statistics that every citizen of Colorado should be aware of:

  • Colorado has experienced increased suicide death rates and numbers since 2009, and the trend continued in 2014;
  • In 2014, the most recent year of data available nationally, Colorado had the seventh-highest suicide rate in the country and is consistently among the states with the top ten highest suicide rates;
  • In 2014, Colorado recorded its highest number of suicides at 1,058 suicide deaths;
  • In comparison, the number of deaths in 2014 from homicides was 172, from motor vehicle crashes was 486, from breast cancer was 553, from influenza and pneumonia was 668 and from diabetes was 826;
  • Suicide is highest in men and middle-aged Coloradans, while men account for over seventy-percent of suicides, there are more attempts by women;
  • Veterans, especially those who seek care outside of the veterans administration are at high risk;
  • Data from the Colorado crisis services system show that nearly one in ten persons using crisis services presented with suicidal intentions, and the Colorado Department of Human Services reports that a staggering seventy percent of mobile services users are suicidal;
  • The rate of suicide in rural and frontier Colorado counties is higher than in other regions of the state;
  • Health care settings, including mental and behavioral health systems, primary care offices, physical and mental health clinics in educational institutions, and hospitals, are critical access points to reach those at risk for suicide; and
  • National data indicate that over thirty percent of individuals are receiving mental health care at the time of their death by suicide and forty-five percent have seen their primary care physician within one month of their death. Primary care is often the first line of contact for individuals who would be less likely to seek out mental health services, particularly men, who are disproportionately represented in suicide deaths each year. National data also show twenty-five percent of those who die of suicide visited an emergency department in the month prior to their death. In Colorado, it is estimated that every year about 250 individuals who died of suicide visited an emergency department prior to death.

   If these statistics are not ominous enough, the General Assembly disclosed these further findings:

  • Suicide is a public health crisis in Colorado and a systems approach is necessary to address this problem effectively;
  • The "zero suicide" model is a key concept of the national strategy for suicide prevention, a priority of the national action alliance for suicide prevention, and a project of the suicide prevention resource center;
  • The "zero suicide" model is built on the foundational belief and aspirational goal that suicide deaths of individuals who are under the care of our health care systems, including mental and behavioral health systems, are almost always preventable;
  • The suicide prevention commission has recommended that health care systems, behavioral health care systems and primary care providers should be encouraged to adopt the "zero suicide" model, and that the office of suicide prevention should examine and coordinate the use of existing data to identify high-risk groups, improve the quality of care for suicidal persons, and provide a basis for measuring progress, while protecting the privacy of the individual and complying with all HIPAA regulations;
  • The seven core tenets of the "zero suicide" model are leadership, training, identification and risk assessment, patient engagement, treatment, transition and quality improvement and data collection; and 
  • Health care systems, including mental and behavioral health systems and hospitals, that have implemented "zero suicide" have noted up to an eighty percent reduction in suicide deaths for patients with their care.

   The General Assembly went on record in SB 147 to encourage the adoption of the "zero suicide" model and its seven core tenets and other aspects of the "zero suicide" model including training requirements and to "take special care to include men of working age, first responders, veterans and active duty military, who are at higher risk for suicide in services provided under all 'zero suicide'-related models."

Lead Sponsors of Senate Bill 16-147:  Senators Linda Newell (D-Arapahoe) 866-4846, and Martinez Humenik (R-Adams) 866-4863; and Senator Brittany Petterson (D-Jefferson).

House Bill 16-1135:  Yet another try at renaming "Columbus Day," HB 1135 includes a very lengthy legislative declaration regarding Columbus, but also presents journal entries from a Spanish priest, Bartoleme de las Casas, about the acts of inhumanity by Columbus. The information is of a nature not usually presented when the battles over Columbus are covered by the media, nor does this writer recall this information in  historical accounts. From Father Bartoleme's journal:

  • "And Spaniards have behaved in no other way during the past forty years, down to the present time, for they are still acting like ravening beasts, killing, terrorizing, afflicting, torturing and destroying the native peoples, doing all this with the strangest and most varied new methods of cruelty, never seen or heard of before, and to such a degree that this Island of Hispaniola once so populous (having a population that I estimated it to be more than three million), has now a population of barely two hundred persons."
  • "Their reason for killing and destroying such an infinite number of souls is that the Christians have an ultimate aim, which is to acquire gold, and to swell themselves with riches in a very brief time and thus rise to a high estate disproportionate to their merits. It should be kept in mind that their insatiable greed and ambition, the greatest ever seen in the world, is the cause of their villainies."
  • "They attacked the towns and spared neither the children nor the aged nor pregnant women nor women in childbed, not only stabbing them and dismembering them but cutting them to pieces as if dealing with sheep in a slaughter house. They laid bets as to who, with one stroke of the sword, could split a man in two or could cut off his head or spill his entrails with a single stroke of the pike."

   The bill notes that Columbus' cruelty was investigated and he was sent back to Spain in chains, but because of the enormous wealth realized through his exploits, the Spanish Crown freed Columbus, stripped of all his titles and allowed him to return to the Caribbean.

The further legislative declaration of HB 1135 goes on to recognize the "immeasurable contributions of the Italian-American and Spanish-American communities, which communities should be honored. However, the State of Colorado will not honor Christopher Columbus because of his well-documented crimes against humanity."

If passed and enacted, HB 1135 would rename the second Monday of October to Indigenous Peoples' day, "creating an opportunity to promote appreciation, tolerance, understanding, friendship and partnerships among indigenous peoples and all other persons." A committee hearing is yet to be scheduled for HB 1135.

Lead Sponsor of House Bill 16-1135:  Representative Joseph A. Salazar (D-Adams) 866-2918; and Senator Jessie Ulibarri (D-Adams) 866-4857.

House Bill 16-1260:  No doubt in part to the recent publicity of assaults taking place many, many years ago, HB 1260, would extend the criminal statute of limitations for a sexual assault to twenty years. Current law for felony sexual offenses is at least ten years but may be extended under certain circumstances. There is no criminal statute of limitation for any sexual offenses against children.

Class 2, 3 or 4 sexual assault offense felonies, depending on the circumstances, are covered by HB 1260.

Sponsors of  House Bill 16-1260:  Representative Rhonda Fields (D-Arapahoe) 866-3911; and Senator John Cooke (R-Weld) 866-4451.

House Bill 16-1231:  Those red light cameras, technically known as "automated vehicle identifications systems" at traffic signals, will be limited to being used in a school zone, a construction or repair zone or on a major roadway intended to serve through traffic if HB 1231 passes and is enacted.

The red light cameras have been criticized as being nothing more than moneymakers for greedy cities. Seeking to stop the use for such, HB 1231 includes a restriction that "requires any governmental entity that assesses fines using a red light camera to use that revenue solely for traffic safety improvements, enforcement and other related purposes."

The fiscal impact analysis notes that two bills (HB 15-1098 and SB 15-276) on this topic were vetoed in 2015 by the Governor, with the veto letters to the General Assembly encouraging such restrictions in the legislation.

HB 1231 was passed unamended by the House Committee on Transportation and Energy on February 24th, and referred to the Committee of the Whole with favorable recommendation.

Sponsors of House Bill 16-1231:  Representative Steve Lebsock (D-Adams) 866-2931; and Senator Morgan Carroll (D-Arapahoe) 866-4879.

The reader’s comments or questions are always welcome.  E-mail me at

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P.O. Box 530
Black Hawk, CO