Senate Bill 1298 is making its way through the Colorado state legislature and it is designed to require marijuana dispensaries to warn pregnant women about the potential health effects of marijuana. Proponents of the bill claim that the bill is all about giving consumers the tools to make an informed decision, while opponents say it is unfairly singling out the marijuana industry.
After a long debate in the House of Representatives, SB 1298 was narrowly passed with preliminary approval. In the coming days, the House will revisit the bill and take a final vote on it, after which the bill will either die or go on to the Senate for consideration.
The legislation itself would require dispensaries to post signs in a conspicuous location that warns pregnant women about the potential health effects of marijuana. The particular wording of the warning is not in the present bill. If passed, the Department of Health would be responsible for drafting the warnings.
Although no one knows what kind of effects marijuana use has on pregnant women, it is understandable why lawmakers would be circumspect about the whole thing. Not too long ago, some pregnant women would drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes, leading to horrible birth defects; and no one wants to repeat that scenario.
Surprisingly enough, this bill has drawn support and criticism form both sides of the aisle. Democratic Rep. Jonathan Singer, one of the bill’s sponsors, told Colorado Public Radio that he supports legal marijuana but that he also supports helping customers make informed decisions.
“Marijuana is new. I supported legalizing marijuana, but I supported it because I believe people can make informed choices,” said Singer, “This bill is about … making sure people make informed decisions.”
However, Singer’s Democratic colleague Steve Lebsock doesn’t quite see it that way. Speaking with The Denver Post, Lebsock shared his reservations. “This bill violates the spirit of Amendment 64, and that’s in our constitution,” said Lebsock, “We shouldn’t be doing that.”
At the heart of Lebsock’s, and other marijuana advocates, argument is that the state has no provision requiring bars to post signs warning pregnant women about alcohol; so why should the marijuana industry be subject to different rules?
The purpose of Amendment 64 was to treat marijuana like alcohol. If the marijuana industry is being treated differently, then by that logic legislators are violating the spirit of the law.
It is hard to gauge what kind of effect this law would have, both on the marijuana industry and expectant mothers. Regardless, as the marijuana industry moves forward in legalization, it is important to have these debates because a responsible industry is a secure industry.