With the implementation of Colorado’s new medical marijuana law on May 8, things have gotten more complicated for the state’s probation officers. The law allows most people on probation to use medical marijuana, but there has been some confusion among probation officers.
Representative Joe Salazar who sponsored the legislation told the Durango Herald that he has received a lot of complaints from card-carrying medical marijuana users that some people on probation are being threatened with violations for using the drug. The Colorado Division of Probation Services acknowledged that its officers needed direction and admitted to “growing pains.”
The situation is complicated, because the statue allows the courts to prohibit people on probation from using the drug if they determine that it is needed to accomplish sentencing goals. Probation offices have responded to this directive by notifying the courts when a person on probation is a medical marijuana user and then letting the person use the drug until they hear otherwise from the courts. That takes the probation offices out of the decision-making process.
The use of medical marijuana by people on probation has been an issue in highly populated areas of Colorado, but has not come up in a number of counties. Colorado has since issued statewide directives for probation officers, and chief probation officers will investigate the specific probation officer if they receive complaints about crackdowns on card-carrying medical marijuana users.
It is to be expected that there will be initial issues with such a complicated area. Salazar is optimistic that probation offices are examining concerns to properly implement the law and said that it was understandable that it would take some time to educate probation officers on how they need to adapt to the changes.