Cooke Bill Will Legalize Sale of FDA-Approved Cannabis Drug

DENVER – As the former Sheriff of Weld County, Greeley Republican State Senator John Cooke was always a skeptic on whether any medically or scientifically valid uses for medical marijuana existed. But recent approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration of a cannabis-based drug for treatment of childhood epilepsy not only prompted Cooke to rethink his just-say-no stance, but to author a bill, which passed the Senate Today in bipartisan fashion, that will make it legal for pharmacies to sell the formerly prohibited product in Colorado.   

“I’ll admit it, I began as a skeptic concerning so-called medical marijuana,” Cooke said Monday when introducing the bill, “so much so that I openly dared those who promoted it to show me one example of where a scientifically-valid medical use had been established. So I’m as surprised as anyone is to see my name on a bill, HB-1187, that for the first time will make it legal for Colorado pharmacies to sell a federally-approved cannabinoid-based treatment for childhood epilepsy.”

Cooke’s bill amends the definition of "marijuana" to exclude prescription drug products approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration and dispensed by a pharmacy or prescription drug outlet registered in Colorado. It also specifies that the change in definition does not restrict or otherwise affect regulation of or access to legalized marijuana or industrial hemp in the state.

“What this company did was take marijuana, remove the THC, and produce an anti-epilepsy drug for small children, which would be illegal to sell in Colorado pharmacies unless we take the explicit step of making it legal, which is what this bill does, in a nutshell,” added Cooke.

Fellow Republican Senators Beth Martinek Humenik (of Thornton) and Vicki Marble (of Fort Collins) also spoke in support of the measure. “If this drug has been approved by the FDA, we can have confidence that it’s not only medically helpful but safe for use by children, if prescribed by a pediatrician,” said Martinez Humenik. Marble called FDA approval of the drug “a great advancement for suffering children and their families, who we recognize are in great need of support.”

HB-1187 now goes to the Governor’s desk for an expected signature.

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