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Medical marijuana: New exemption to 35 day rule means patients don't have to wait for pot

marijuana plant outdoor shot cropped-thumb-130x116.jpg
Update below: Until last fall, medical marijuana centers could sell cannabis to patients as soon as they submitted licensing paperwork. Then, the Department of Revenue began enforcing what became known as the 35-day rule, named for the time application processing was supposed to take (although it often went longer). Now, however, a new exemption to the regulation has quietly been enacted.

According to Colorado Dispensary Services' Jake Browne, who's written a blog post about the topic on the CDS website, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announcement of this rule-change came in an unusual form: a voicemail message.

elaine betts.JPG
Elaine Betts.
The result? First-time applicants may purchase medicine the same day they send their completed application by certified mail, Browne notes. At CDS, that means bringing photocopies of a physician recommendation, the completed application, current ID and the certified mail receipt. The center is charged with confirming that the physician is in good standing, with no restrictions or conditions on his license -- and once that's done, the patient should be good to go.

Now, Browne's trying to get the word out. "Very few physicians and dispensaries are aware of this policy change," he writes via e-mail, "so few patients understand their right to purchase medicine the same day."

The reason for the rule tweak had to do with "helping those who were struggling with end-of-life issues, going through aggressive cancer treatments, and so forth," he goes on. "There are hospice patients who need access to medicine that simply don't have 35 days. Creating an exemption from the mandated waiting period allows them to pass with dignity." However, the alteration "applies to anyone who is a new applicant to the registry."

Browne was among the most vocal objectors to the 35-day rule when it went into effect in late September-early October of 2010. And while the license-application delay isn't nearly as onerous as it once was, he believes the lag-time is growing again.

"A few months ago, you could count on receiving your card in roughly two weeks," he points out. "That's started to creep back up to a month."

Moreover, "The CDPHE issued tens of thousands of cards around this time last year, which means a lot of patients are renewing at the same time. We don't want to read about more patients like Elaine Betts," whose medical marijuana card arrived two weeks after her death.

Update, 2:43 p.m. September 29: Just heard from Sensible Colorado's Josh Kappel, and he shares some technicalities about what's required of medical marijuana centers and patients as applied to the new rule change.

"This is how it works," he says. "If a person applies for a medical marijuana card and it's the first time they've ever applied, they can take that application and the doctor's recommendation and the certificate of mailing [plus a current ID] to any medical marijuana center -- but only between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Then, the medical marijuana center has to call the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment line and verify that the patient's application hasn't been denied. Then, and only then, can they sell to that patient."

More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana: DEA could raid any day, but we go to work anyway, says dispensary staffer."


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26 comments
mattrix6770
mattrix6770

do you know if the cdphe mmj dept will make a copy of the application form and doctors recommendation for me ....or anyone for that matter....i was under the impression that you were not able to use your paper work the same day not dots they inform me of such an option at the doctors consultation. any info would be helpful.

Colorado Mmj Patient
Colorado Mmj Patient

We wouldn't even have this bullshit 35 day rule if it wasn't for that attorney sending out that memo to scare people and drum up business.  I'll have to go back and see who it is.  The State didn't even think about this until people started calling in and asking questions after receiving the memo.  

Jake Browne
Jake Browne

Just to clarify, an MMC needs to contact the CDPHE to ensure they haven't updated the voicemail in the event of a denial. The registry also has a live operator that is available during most normal business hours.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

yay.

This is good for patients -- those that do business with MMCs.  Truly needy patients across Colorado either have no access to medicine because there is no dispensary nearby or because they cannot afford medicine.  One of the main purposes of the Medical Marijuana Amendment, Article XVIII, Section 14 of our Constitution since 2000, was to protect the people who provide cannabis as medicine to patients -- they are called "caregivers" (there are, I'm afraid, any number of people who believe that the Constitution itself has been changed to get rid of caregivers -- that was accomplished entirely extra- and unconstitutionally).  The State has run roughshod over the rights and prerogatives of caregivers, contradicting the Constitution in statute, in regulation, and by denying them the defense which is their constitutional right in the courts, and by and large, most dispensaries have stood by and watched.  The MMIG and predecessor organizations like CMMR, cheered along the sanctioning of MMCs in statute at the cost of half of the intent of Amendment 20.  These cheerleaders promote Colorado's untenable system as some sort of model for other states, even as patients are being cut off.

Colorado could have reaped the benefits of the People's decision with a minimum of statutory intervention, but instead, the State wants to take it over -- the problem with licensing dispensaries and grow-ops (as opposed to just enjoying what comes out of them) is that the State is challenging the Federal Controlled Substances Act directly and using those businesses as its catspaws.  I am in favor of repealing the Controlled Substances Act, but getting people (even people who ought to have known better) busted under it is not necessarily going to accomplish that -- more to the point, it does not help patients.  What Colorado's Establishment has done over the course of the past three years has been to pursue a counterrevolution against the decision of the People eleven years ago.  The real purpose of the Amendment has been left by the wayside as the larger issue of re-legalization is dealt with, but patients can see that Colorado's leaders ignored their medical needs in their overweaning desire to repudiate cannabis.

Robert ChaseColorado Coalition for Patients and Caregivers(720) 213-6497

GetReal
GetReal

Wow, so I can now get my medicine the same day as my doctor recommends it?  Just like being able to go to the pharmacy the same day as he prescribes other meds?  No more suffering for 35 days?  Wow, such compassion.  Thanks!

As others have pointed out, this has ALWAYS been a constitutional right possessed by patients.  Once again, fear has been forcing patients to suffer.  What a joke.

Info
Info

More mis-information being disseminated through non-resourced blog posts.  The following link will take you to the "official" statement released by the Colorado MMED http://tinyurl.com/23rg8y6Their stance on the 35 day rule HAS NOT CHANGED.  Any center selling to a patient without a valid MMJ card in hand, can face "...administrative and criminal sanctions..."

RyanJohnSmith
RyanJohnSmith

Do I have to wait a month before getting my oxycontin script filled ?

guest2
guest2

It's funny how the same people who can clearly see how these regulations increase cost, and harm patients and businesses are the same people clammering for more regs in the federal government- it's time to take this country from the bureaucrats and return this country to the people.  Nullify unconstitutional federal mandates.  Repeal over-reaching state regulations.  

guest
guest

Well the Colorado Constitution does not make registering with the State Mandatory. The regulators like to overlook this fact. 

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

Basically if your Doctor signs the paperwork you are good to go and buy some medicine because the CDPHE accepts all applications or 99.99% of them.  What's the point of the registry then?  Wouldn't it be nice if just a doctor's rec is all you need to get growing or buying or what ever means will provide you your 420?  Is a Doctor's recommendation all that you need?  This is a question that needs to be answered.

Citizen80919
Citizen80919

The original 35 day rule is written directly into the Colorado Constitution.  It did not allow for purchases until 35 days lapsed.  The new rules in HB11-1043 allow for purchase without having to wait.  

Citizen80919
Citizen80919

Yep, you need 4 pieces to make it happen.  Dr's Rec, Application, Photo ID, and Proof of Mailing.   Many centers are afraid to do it though, so you might have to shop around to find one that is in the know.

Monkey
Monkey

HB 11-1043 changed that, the DOR is just slow and incompetent.12-43.3-402. Medical marijuana center license (5) it's real long so i wont post it but it starts on page 9 of the bill

http://www.leg.state.co.us/cli...

Matt in Boulder
Matt in Boulder

Nope - you don't have to be registered with the state, don't have to be videotaped while picking it up, and you can get it right in your local grocery store. 

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

(that's "clamoring" and "overreaching") -- as long as we're talking about cannabis, agreed, but many other regulations save lives and livelihoods.  We need rational regulations and rational people to enforce them.

Consider the case of Rocky Ford Cantaloupes -- Colorado has a law against libelling our produce, yet the CDPHE identified those causing recent cases of listeriosis as coming from the Rocky Ford region.  It transpires that the contaminated cantaloupes originate from a single farm almost 100 miles away from Rocky Ford (and the characterization alone will cost Rocky Ford dearly).  I am not claiming that more bureaucrats would necessarily have saved the lives of the sixteen (16) people who died, but you can bet that they are trying to find out that farm's technique -- listeria has not been a significant source of produce-borne illness until now, but this is the most significant case of food-borne illness in years.

I believe that our government should act to prevent contamination of the food supply, because there is a superabundance of evidence to suggest that it should.  I oppose the government overregulating and penalizing the use of cannabis, because there is no evidence that it presents a threat to public health.  The consumption of cannabis and cantaloupes may be comparable in extent, but even though cannabis is contraband, is subject to no inspections other than those that sellers and buyers choose to make, is often sold with contaminants, and has even been deliberately poisoned by the US government, it has never been linked to consumers' deaths (not even in chronic use) -- the use of cantaloupe over a brief period in the recent past has now accounted for more cases of acute illness and death both than can be attributed to cannabis over millenia of human consumption!

Derp McGurk
Derp McGurk

Keep that dern govmn't outta mah hookah!

Monkey
Monkey

I think they are trying to say it's like it use to be. All you need is the recommendation but to shop at the silly little stores you need proof you submitted an application to the state via a certified mail receipt. Sooo, just like last year, everyone will send in a blank piece of paper to the CDPHE and use their fake receipt untill someone stopes serving them, then down the street to the other silly weed store. This is not very new but CDS really needs more customers so that's why their "breaking the news". They have too much warehouse bud people are sick of and need the new patients to come straight in after their doctor appointment.

Colorado Mmj Patient
Colorado Mmj Patient

LOL.  There is no 35 day rule in the Constitution.  It just says they have 35 days to verify the info.  Here you go:

"(c) Within thirty days of receiving the information referred to in subparagraphs (3)(b)(I)-(IV), the state health agency shall verify medical information contained in the patient's written documentation. "

edit: 30 days to verify and 5 days to issue the card. 30+5=35

"Otherwise, not more than five days after verifying such information, the state health agency shall issue one serially numbered registry identification card to the patient"

Citizen80919
Citizen80919

INFO:  You are spreading misinformation yourself.  You link points to a 2010 document that has since been superseded by the passage of HB11-1043. However it only works for new applications, not renewals.  Here's the part that says it's legal:

(5) Prior to initiating a sale, the employee of the medical marijuanacenter making the sale shall verify that the purchaser has a valid registrationcard issued pursuant to section 25-1.5-106, C.R.S., OR A COPY OF ACURRENT AND COMPLETE NEW APPLICATION FOR THE MEDICAL MARIJUANAREGISTRY ADMINISTERED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH ANDENVIRONMENT THAT IS DOCUMENTED BY A CERTIFIED MAIL RETURN RECEIPTAS HAVING BEEN SUBMITTED TO THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH ANDENVIRONMENT WITHIN THE PRECEDING THIRTY-FIVE DAYS, and a validpicture identification card that matches the name on the registration card.A PURCHASER MAY NOT PROVIDE A COPY OF A RENEWAL APPLICATION INORDER TO MAKE A PURCHASE AT A MEDICAL MARIJUANA CENTER. APURCHASER MAY ONLY MAKE A PURCHASE USING A COPY OF HIS OR HERAPPLICATION FROM 8 A.M. TO 5 P.M., MONDAY THROUGH FRIDAY. IF THEPURCHASER PRESENTS A COPY OF HIS OR HER APPLICATION AT THE TIME OFPURCHASE, THE EMPLOYEE MUST CONTACT THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLICHEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT TO DETERMINE WHETHER THE PURCHASER'SAPPLICATION HAS BEEN DENIED.

Citizen80919
Citizen80919

Pretty sure the grocery store is video taping you...

Citizen80919
Citizen80919

What is your agenda here?  Why are you attempting to spread misinformation ?

The constitution clearly states:  where the state health agency, within thirty-five days of receipt of an application, fails to issue a registry identification card or fails to issue verbal or written notice of denial of such application, the patient's application for such card will be deemed to have been approved.

That is your 35 day rule as outlined by the Constitution Article 18 Section 14 subsection 3-D

Citizen80919
Citizen80919

Dispensary cameras do not read your ID and Red Card info.  Have you even been in a dispensary ?

Matt in Boulder
Matt in Boulder

It is safe to assume you are being videotaped pretty much everywhere you go.  But only at MMCs do you explicitly show your ID along with the product you just purchased to the camera.  And MMCs are the only "legal" drug stores that dispense a federally prohibited controlled substance.

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