Medical Marijuana Assistance Program of the Rockies outlines legislative strategy

vincent palazzotto.jpg
Vincent Palazzotto.
Update below: Last week, Medical Marijuana Assistance Program of the Rockies co-founder Vincent Palazzotto shared his relief that a health department advisory committee struck draft language that might have outlawed mobile MMJ clinics like one his organization uses.

Now, he hopes HB 1043, a new medical marijuana bill, will allow dispensaries to donate or discount medication for indigent patients.

The bill, on view in its entirety below, notes that "under current law, a medical marijuana center is subject to prohibitions on unfair business practices that may include selling products below cost." Hence, a passage that reads as follows:

A MEDICAL MARIJUANA CENTER MAY SELL BELOW COST OR DONATE MEDICAL MARIJUANA, CLONES, OR MEDICAL MARIJUANA-INFUSED PRODUCTS TO PATIENTS WHO ARE DESIGNATED AS INDIGENT BY THE STATE HEALTH AGENCY.

This tweak is important, in Palazzotto's view, because "right now, there's no bona fide way to get donations into the hands of patients. So we're hopeful that, with the help of Senator Steadman and Representative Massey" -- the legislators co-sponsoring HB 1043 -- "we can get medication to the people who need it most."

Along these lines, Palazzotto would also like medical marijuana patients to be evaluated under the guidelines established by the Colorado Indigent Care Program (CICP).

Why? Our October 2010 post about AIDS patient Damien LaGoy offers some details. LaGoy noted that the state board of health eliminated medical marijuana license fees for indigent patients on Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or food stamps, but not for people like himself, who are categorized under Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), a standard the Colorado Indigent Care Program uses. As such, he was unsure if he'd be able to afford to continue taking medication that he says has radically improved his ability to function on a daily basis.

damien lagoy.jpg
Damien LaGoy.
Because of the SSI vs. SSDI distinction, Palazzotto estimates that "only about 10 percent of our indigent patients would be eligible to receive donations or a sales-tax waiver" should the new medical marijuana bill pass. If, however, the Colorado Indigent Care Program rules that pertain to folks with most other ailments also applied to MMJ patients, more people could be helped.

"We believe there's already an indigence standard for people who seek traditional health care," he says, "and we don't believe a discriminatory line in the sand should be drawn over what type of medication people are choosing to use."

Problem is, legislation may not cure this ill. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the state's department of revenue are the agencies that need convincing -- and Palazzotto hopes he and fellow advocates will be able to do so in the coming months.

"Members of the community are ready to open their hearts," he maintains. "We just have to win over the department of revenue and the department of health to adopting these standards."

Update, 9:44 a.m., January 18: After our publication of this item on January 17, the Medical Marijuana Assistance Program of the Rockies issued a press release detailing its lobbying efforts on behalf of MMJ doctors and outlining its legislative strategy. Read it below:

MMJ Patients Win Big

MMAPR Protects Patients; New Target Set on Capitol

DENVER, COLO. -- Jan. 17, 2011 -- The Medical Marijuana Assistance Program of the Rockies (MMAPR) was instrumental last week in ensuring that patients continue to have access to doctors that recommend medical cannabis.

The Denver-based group will also advocate for indigent patients as state lawmakers consider a proposal for additional regulations. MMAPR founders and doctors are available to comment on House Bill 1043 before it reaches the House Judiciary Committee on Feb. 3, as well as after any actions are taken on the legislation.

MMAPR founder Vincent P. Palazzotto, as well as doctors associated with MMAPR and its mobile doctors unit, testified before the health department's medical marijuana advisory committee last week in support of patients who have a constitutional right to medical cannabis. The health department is considering whether to prohibit doctors specializing in medical cannabis from writing recommendations, as well as whether to require doctors to have a permanent location in order to recommend medical cannabis.

The advisory committee will make recommendations to the health department, though the Board of Health will have the final say.

Testimony from MMAPR founders and doctors convinced the advisory committee that the additional regulations would have restricted access, essentially denying thousands of medical marijuana patients the ability to legally obtain medicine. Because unfortunate social stigmas are still attached to medical cannabis, many doctors are uncomfortable writing the recommendations. MMAPR's mobile doctors, however, travel the state in a converted Airstream recreational vehicle, meeting patients directly in their communities to offer them access to affordable medical cannabis. For indigent and sick patients unable to make long trips, the mobile doctors unit sets up near RTD access points to provide a way for patients to easily access affordable medicine. Patients can either schedule a mobile appointment, or show up at one of several events for care.

Betty Aldworth, executive director of Coloradans for Medical Marijuana Regulation, explained that the work of MMAPR helped to ensure that an estimated 40,000 medical marijuana patients in Colorado continue to have access to medical cannabis.

"What would have happened is that medical cannabis specialists who are currently providing a critical service for patients who don't have access to recommendations through their health care system would have been completely eliminated," said Aldworth.

Of the estimated 22,000 doctors in Colorado, only around 1,100 have felt comfortable writing recommendations, said Aldworth.

Had the health department's medical marijuana advisory committee recommended that the Board of Health prohibit cannabis specialists from making recommendations, thousands of cannabis patients would have immediately had to "scramble" to find doctors willing to evaluate patients for medical cannabis, said MMAPR founder Palazzotto. But MMAPR's work convinced the committee otherwise.

"Thousands of patients would have had to go outside their health care provider in order to receive recommendations, and it would have cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to maintain this statutory relationship that would have been developed," said Palazzotto. "We're just happy to have made some progress in the fight for access and affordability."

MMAPR has now set its sights on HB 1043, which aims to add additional regulations on the medical marijuana industry. The bill, which has the bipartisan sponsorship of Rep. Tom Massey, R-Poncha Springs, and Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, would allow medical marijuana centers to sell cannabis at a reduced cost or donate medical marijuana to indigent patients. MMAPR is available to comment on this positive aspect of the legislation, and will be testifying on the bill come its first Feb. 3rd hearing.

About the Medical Marijuana Assistance Program of the Rockies (MMAPR):

Founded in 2009 by Vincent Palazzotto, MMAPR is the nation's first traditional medicine Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) serving indigent patients across Colorado. The medical marijuana (MMJ) community and patient advocacy groups have recognized it as the only group in Colorado serving the needs of MMJ patients and focusing the debate where it should be -- on the patients themselves. MMAPR's mission is to ensure indigent patients have access to affordable traditional treatments and medicines across the nation. Through their qualified network of providers and caregivers, MMAPR provides low-cost MMJ evaluations, and up to 50 percent off medications and services such as massage, acupuncture, yoga, nutritionists, and naturopathic physicians. MMAPR is strongly supported throughout the MMJ community, bringing a grassroots campaign to the forefront of the medical marijuana/cannabis industry. For more information, visit MMAPR.org.

Page down to see the latest draft of HB 1043:

My Voice Nation Help
9 comments
naturopath
naturopath

   'Thank you for this blog. That's all I can say. You most definitely have made this blog into something thats eye opening and important. You clearly know so much about the subject, youve covered so many bases. Great stuff from this part of the internet. Again, thank you for this blog." 

Starter
Starter

Courage, Liberty, Guns and Weed I've often been told that when you're giving a speech — if all you get is applause and cheers — and you never piss anyone off — you're no better than a low-life politician, because you're not challenging anyone's conventional mode of thought. Hopefully, I get at least a few eyebrows raised here in my 8—9 short minutes….

So let's start out with the easy stuff, ok? I'm a tenther. That means I believe that the federal government should exercise only those powers that we the people delegated to it in the constitution — and nothing more. For example, no Obamacare mandates, no bank bailouts, and definitely no federal gun laws — period.

Question. How many people here own a gun, or manufacture or sell guns?

And how many of you are proud felons — meaning, when the government makes rules to restrict your right to keep and bear arms, you simply ignore them because they don't have the authority to do so?

HEMPCON

I recently went to an event called Hemp Con down in my part of the state — Los Angeles. This is a big event at the LA convention center — with loads of vendors and businesses from every angle you can think of in support of the marijuana industry. There were home security companies to help protect your weed, solar power companies to help you grow your weed, doctors giving out medical marijuana cards to virtually anyone with $80 and an hour of time. There were even delivery services — you can get your marijuana delivered to you 24 hours a day…in 30 minutes or less. The pizza companies have nothing on these guys! It was amazing if you think about it from an economic standpoint — this was capitalism, the free market — working its wonders around an industry.

What's the point?

Virtually EVERY single one of those businesses was either directly violating federal law, or aiding someone else in doing so because marijuana is illegal, according to the feds — but not the constitution — in all situations. In 2003, Tommy Chong was arrested for merely selling pieces of glass — pipes that could be used to smoke marijuana. And today, 7 years later, we've got what seemed to be the WalMart of weed in Downtown Los Angeles. And guess what — no ATF or DEA thugs shut the place down. Business functioned, people did what they wanted to in freedom, and that was that.

FREEDOM TO TRAVEL

Another quick story.

In 2005, the Bush administration got the REAL ID act passed, which was — in the eyes of many — a new form of a national ID card. We were warned that if this act wasn't followed, people wouldn't be able to travel, enter federal buildings, get on planes, and the like.

Much of my girlfriend's family lives in Missouri, a state that's not in compliance with the Real ID act. Her relatives do a little traveling from time to time. They get on airplanes and show their non-compliant Missouri driver's license. No federal agents stop them and prevent them from boarding a plane.

Well, most state DL's — including those in Missouri — don't comply with the Real ID Act. That law is still on the books in DC — it's never been repealed. It's never been challenged in court either. But — due to 25 states refusing to comply with the “law” — in much of the country that Real ID act is virtually null and void.

Here in California, the state always seems to be on its knees, begging the feds for something. Well, except on marijuana. In 2005, the Supreme Court ruled that state medical marijuana laws were illegal. At that time there were 10 states that had such laws. Do you know how many were repealed? Zero. And today, there's 14 states defying Washington DC, and getting away with it.

Today, we see the Firearms Freedom Act movement growing along these lines — it's already passed in 8 states. Following that lead, 5 states have passed laws saying no to Obamacare mandates too.

THE LESSON

What's the lesson? This is the blueprint — when enough people say no to unconstitutional laws, regulations….and mandates….and enough states pass laws to back those people up — there's not much the federal government can do, but slowly and consistently back off. There's no tanks rolling into Los Angeles to shut down the dispensaries, and there's no jack-booted thugs forcing people to get new driver's licenses in Missouri. This is far from perfect, but it can work, and it is working right now.

So here's the final question — and the big challenge to you today.

The next time you begrudgingly follow some federal “law” that restricts your right to keep and bear arms — or the next time you hear about a gun rights case that will be decided in 2, or 4, or 6 years — with the hope that some judge will give you permission to exercise your rights, ask yourself this question:

Do you….gun rights activists….have as much courage as the pot smokers?

For the sake of liberty — I hope you do — because I believe that we the people need to exercise our rights whether they the government wants to give us “permission” to or not!

Rockymtncannabisadvocate
Rockymtncannabisadvocate

I am looking for a seasoned, or, aspiring MMJ advocate to help coordinate a MMJ advocacy two day workshop/boot camp. This workshop will teach the specific skills needed to become a leading advocate for medical cannabis policy.

I likely have a 5,000/sf space to host this at, I however am busy with a much larger project, and cannot devote enough time to this opportunity.If you are interested in learning more about this opportunity, please, send me an email to the username I used to post this comment, all one word followed by @yahoo.com. Thank you.

Leave Behind
Leave Behind

CALLING ALL MMJ PHYSICIANS!!!!

The MEDICAL MARIJUANA DOCTORS ASSOCIATION (MMDA) is meeting tonight (1/18/11) at 1368 26TH ST. DENVER, CO 80204 at 6:00PM.

Up for discussion is recent interpretation regarding SB109, HB1284, and recently proposed, HB1043.

For more information, please email info@MMAPR.org.

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

Remember how Boulder exposed 60 grow locations a couple weeks ago. The Department of Revenue Medical Marijuana Enforcement exposed all 1100+ locations too, see the map at http://420map.co of everyone in Colorado who applied to grow, cook, and sell marijuana by license type www.420map.co

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Fascinating map, High Country Caregiver. Thanks for linking it here.

Rockymtncannabisadvocate
Rockymtncannabisadvocate

That map has been available since December. It simply uses the DOR's public records, in GIS format. 100% normal, and that information is only for MMC and MIPS, NOT the growhouses.

Sailorjerry
Sailorjerry

Please attend this Wednesday's Board of Health meeting. LOCATION TIME Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 10:00 a.m. Sabin Conference Room, Bldg. A, 1st Floor 4300 Cherry Creek Drive, S., Denver, CO 80246 The Board of Health is, likely, going to making a final decision on "5 CCR 1006-2, Medical Use of Marijuana, codifying petitioning process to add debilitating medical conditions."This regulation will set the model/standard for the petition process for adding medical conditions which qualify a person for medicinal cannabis. Currently the BOH is considering to high of a standard for adding new medical conditions to the list. The BOH is considering using a standard of ONLY looking at studies which have been conducted as Randomized Controlled Trials (RCT), or the next higher step, Double-blind-placebo controlled RCT’s (Sciences highest standard possible). Unfortunately, with cannabis being a Schedule 1 drug, access to it has been greatly restricted, and consequently not very many studies have been done with cannabis that meant the standard of RCT’s. Therefore come to the BOH meeting this Wednesday and tell the BOH to go with the lower standard for adding new medical conditions, otherwise they will be adversely harming Colorado citizens by setting the “bar” to high.

Leave Behind
Leave Behind

We have discussed this issue between several doctors who will be testifying tomorrow, and will be speaking out regarding RCT's removed from the language for adding debilitating conditions.

Thank-you for adding this very crucial point.

Now Trending

Denver Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Loading...