Colorado Cannabis Bill Aims To Ease Restrictions For Parents

By Kelly Burch 01/25/19

Parens of children who depend on cannabis-based medications for epilepsy and other medical conditions are championing the new bill. 

parents taking care of sick child

A Colorado bill aims to make it easier for parents of children enrolled in the state’s medical marijuana program to get the cannabis-based medications that their children need. 

According to current state law, children in the medical marijuana program — who are often severely ill — can have only one primary medical marijuana caregiver who is permitted to pick up his or her cannabis medications, according to

Having to choose just one parent who has this permission can be stressful for families like that of Christine and Matthew Cerrato, whose four-year-old son Ethan uses cannabis to treat epilepsy and other medical conditions. 

Because their son in so young and medically fragile, the Cerratos need to travel 80 miles to secure his medication, which is not sold locally. This is complicated by the fact that Ethan is often in the hospital: He was there 11 times just last year. 

“For the first year, I was the caregiver. But when we'd be at the hospital, I couldn't just leave this small child, who is sick yet also very cognitively aware, with strangers. But on the other side, what else can I do, let him lapse in treatment? There is this really bizarre gap here,” said Christine. Matthew is Ethan’s primary medical marijuana caregiver, so only he can go to the dispensary. 

"We've got other kids and have to take care of groceries and meals. Matt has the availability to go [to the dispensary], but if he's sick or occupied, he still needs to go, even though I'm totally healthy and able-bodied to do this myself," Christine said. She pointed out that although their family can manage, other parents find the situation even more complicated to navigate. 

"But we're still lucky: We're part of this gap that is married, in the same home, and Matt's not traveling for work. We're able to manage it, but I've had friends in the cannabis community go through ugly divorces... . Whatever the parental situation might be, it just doesn't make sense,” she said. 

When Christine posted her frustrations on Facebook one night, State Representative Matt Gray answered. After learning more about the issue he introduced the bill to allow both parents to be medical marijuana caregivers. The measure will be considered this week, but Gray says he doesn’t anticipate any opposition. 

"This is a common-sense idea. The idea that one parent can give their kid medicine and the other can't is kind of ridiculous," he said

Christine hopes the strange law changes soon. 

"We're all busy. Both of us being able to make Ethan's purchases just makes things run more smoothly," she said. 

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.