Colorado Probation Laws and Marijuana

Colorado Probation Laws and Marijuana

Almost all state probation programs require their participants to take drug tests, and failure to pass one can mean a violation. Until May of 2015, this was true even in Colorado, where a medical marijuana program has been in place for the last 15 years.


As recently as 2012, Colorado’s court of appeals ruled that those on probation or parole should not be allowed to use medical marijuana. This decision came after Leonard Watkins, a medical marijuana patient and a convicted child molester took the state to court, arguing that he should be allowed to use medical marijuana while on probation. The judge ruled against him.


Earlier this year, House Bill 1267, which aimed at reversing that decision was introduced at the Colorado General Assembly. The bill’s primary sponsor, Representative Joe Salazar (D-Thornton) said, “If it’s in the constitution, you should have the right to use it on probation.”


When Gov. John Hickenlooper signed HB 1267 into law that policy changed. Now Colorado residents with permission to use marijuana for medical purposes won’t be charged with violating parole or probation if they use cannabis. This makes Colorado the third state to implement such a law, the first two being Rhode Island and Arizona.


Analysts cannot say how many people may have been cited for violating parole or probation in the past, after failing a drug test due to marijuana use.