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Medical marijuana: 3,200 patient applications in limbo, may be tossed due to technicalities

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Update 2 by Michael Roberts below: Today, the state board of health approved decreasing marijuana registry fees from $90 to $35, as anticipated -- and tweaks in language involving indigent patients and physician conditions and restrictions sailed through as well. But more intriguing was word that approximately 3,200 MMJ applications are currently being delayed -- and while officials didn't offer details about why, there are some theories.

Lower fees are expected to go into effect either later this year or early next year; we've placed a call to Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment spokesman Mark Salley in the hope of getting a firm date, and when he responds, we'll post another update.

Meanwhile, William Breathes, who attended the meeting, reports that Ron Hyman, the Office of Vital Statistics and Medical Marijuana Registry's registrar and director, announced that "there are 3,200 applications currently on hold for some sort of restriction on the physician." Hyman added that patients whose applications are on hold won't be able to get answers about their status until after December 1.

What's the reason for the delay? Betty Aldworth, community relations director for Colorado Dispensary Services, another meeting attendee, says, "Our best guess is that there is some problem with the signature on the application or other information on the application."

For instance, she goes on, "I know of patients who have applied to the registry, and whose application is clearly among the 3,200 -- and a physicians assistant, rather than the physician, signed the paperwork."

Whether or not this particular technicality spurred the delay, the large number of applications in limbo likely explains why we've been getting reports about processing delays far longer than the 35 days or fewer the CDPHE has claimed in recent weeks. Aldworth says patients whose applications have the proper doctor signature and so on are indeed being turned around in a month or so. But thousands of other applications have lingered for two or three months -- some for even longer. And in her view, that's a major problem.

"We are particularly concerned that patients are being left out in the cold right now," she says. "There's a strong likelihood these applications will be denied and patients will either have to revisit the same physician or another physician in order to apply to the registry and start all over again. And in the meantime, they're not being given the opportunity to visit centers and purchase the medical marijuana they need."

Update 2, 2:46 p.m. November 16: Just heard from CDPHE spokesman Mark Salley. He confirms that the $35 fee will go into effect on January 1, 2012. Regarding the reason for a delay in the processing of approximately 3,200 patient applications, he says, "We are attempting to establish the validity of the physician signatures on the forms." This explanation would correspond with the theory voiced by Colorado Dispensary Service's Betty Aldworth -- that physicians assistants, rather than the doctors themselves, may have signed some documents. But a whole range of other possibilities could fit as well.

Look below for our initial coverage.

Original item by William Breathes, 6:59 a.m. November 16: Back in July, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment asked patients to write in and give their thoughts on dropping medical marijuana registry fees from $90 to $35. After roughly three months of no doubt pouring over the thousands of letters that resulted, Board of Health members will be making a pricing decision this morning at their monthly meeting.

Because of an increase in red-card holders over the last few years, CDPHE reps said more people are sharing the estimated $3.36 million cost of running the registry. However, officials estimated that the number would hold steady at about 120,000 patients, with roughly 20 percent of them having fees waived due to indigent status. When you do the math, about $35 apiece from the remaining 80 percent would cover the costs.

Does recent data showing patient registry totals dropping to around 102,500 in September change that? No -- or at least not yet.

CDPHE spokesman Mark Salley says the fee is evaluated every year and is based on the number of applications over the past year. If the patient registry ends up holding steady where it is or dropping off more, the Board of Health would make a change reflecting that a year from now.

The meeting starts at 10 a.m. in the Sabin-Cleere Room in the CDPHE offices at 4300, S. Cherry Creek Dr. According to the schedule, public comment on matters not on the agenda are first on the agenda; the actual rulemaking hearing for the change starts at 10:30 a.m. The Board will also debate changes that would clarify who qualifies for indigent status in the state as well as language concerning conditioned and restricted physicians licenses. In both cases, the tweaks are considered relatively minor clarifications of terms or vague language. You can view the proposals on the CDPHE website.

It is unclear if any more public testimony will be heard on the fee change at the meeting today, although Denver medical marijuana patients have been known to let their opinions be heard at CDPHE meetings whether there's a scheduled opportunity to do so or not.

Check back, as we'll update this post later today after the board has reached its decision.

More from our Marijuana archive: "Med. marijuana patient red card wait: 60 days & counting even though check cashed a month ago;" "Marijuana advocate on dubbing of Denver Police Chief Robert White as Captain Cannabis."

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83 comments
Guest
Guest

still no card, over 50 days.

I've also not heard from Welldocs.

ReRe
ReRe

WOW!!! All these comments are crazy. Listen up people...... Do not get a red card.... You wanted to do the right thing but the government officials do not do the right thing. In fact they are compromising your information.. The registry is voluntary. Continue to get it from another patient that grows who cares for the plants and you. Meaning they do not want to poison you.

Marijuana Abuse
Marijuana Abuse

Pope Benedict XVI praised efforts by the Dutch government to reduce drug abuse and prostitution, measures hotly debated in the Netherlands where broad personal freedoms have made some cities, particularly Amsterdam, famous for red-light districts ... Proposed legislation would make the marijuana coffee bars accessible to members only, raise the legal age for prostitutes and use stricter zoning laws to limit both the bars and the brothels.

thispettypacefromdaytoday
thispettypacefromdaytoday

I just received mine in the mail today as well: the certified mail receipt had Oct. 27th as the date of paperwork delivery to CDPHE.

I did use Welldocs this year, fyi, which I have never done before....so at least a few of their signatories are legit.

Good luck, patients.

Red Card Holder
Red Card Holder

I found my new red card in the mailbox this morning, which means it arrived yesterday - 27 days including mailing time.

Pete
Pete

We had an application sent back to us once because our doctor did not actually check a box indicating a reason, he merely supplied 2 paragraphs describing my wife's severe pain symptoms and history and why he was recommending.  I think half-witted monkeys are approving these things.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

CDPHE reps said more people are sharing the estimated $3.36 million cost of running the registry.

So what are the exact staff positions and salaries of this CDPHE MMJ Registry that it costs $3,360,000 every year to simply record paperwork and issue a flimsy "card" ?

Perhaps some salary cuts are in order so that overpaid CDPHE executives can join the 99% - i.e, suffering patients.

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

I'm free of the dispensary and registry system.  No way in hell am I submitting a form that says I grow marijuana or letting others name me in the aforementioned federal crime.  I'll take my chances OG style from now on.

Cz
Cz

Great news about the fee lowering! The problem with the patients in limbo really sucks and I hope a solution is found for the patients affected.

Instntkrma
Instntkrma

I heard from a reliable source its mostly WellDocs applications & a couple smaller doc offices that were xerox-signed by Dr Lenny Sudjak then signed by PAs. The BOH is considering backdating their decision, as this practice of using PAs was acceptable before 10/24, as PAs can legally dispense other drugs and treat under a docs license. 

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

The Catholic Church parasitizes societies around the globe, facilitating the sexual abuse of minors, militating for unwanted births, and trying to criminalize innocuous conduct.

Leena
Leena

they received my stuff 10/6, still no card, welldocs Boulder. that's 47 days.

Fernando1
Fernando1

I also got my card in the mail today. I used Welldocs in Boulder. All is good!!

Red Card Holder
Red Card Holder

(and my old one was expired for about a week before I mailed it).

instntkrma
instntkrma

the card itself is a memorial to what they think of the people they serve. it's the most cumbersome sloppy id card issued anywhere north of the equator. I DARE you to show me worse!

Simpon
Simpon

Anyone else wonder if HCH is Chris Barkowitz posting from prison?

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Registration, and the $90 extortion, are entirely optional under Amendment 20.

The ONLY thing a Patient needs to be afforded all the protections of Amendment 20 is the Physician's Referral.

Period.

instntkrma
instntkrma

they should issue the cards and reprimand the operations that were operating against the rules.

InterestingTake
InterestingTake

Hmm...Interesting that you say that the "practice of using PAs was acceptable before 10/24" because it says that it has to be issued by a physician in the amendment.  I have a relative who is a PA and he was asking about writing referrals - I read him the amendment and he said "Then, no.  The definition of a physician in the State of Colorado is an MD or a DO.  PAs cannot do it."  Then I found out about Welldocs having a PA sign off on them...Then I also found out that Welldocs had to shut down 2 of their locations due to the PA issue and others.  

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Very interesting, Instntkrma. Thanks for passing along this info.

Guest
Guest

good for you. I'm still waiting. I just got a message that they are 'verifying the physician certification' and that my physician has been contacted? wtf does that mean? and yes, I went to welldocs in Boulder and saw a PA.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Too true. 

A Colorado State Photo ID card only costs  $10.50, and includes a photo, mag stripe, security features, is tamper proof plastic and fits in a wallet ...

... yet the CDPHE charges $90 for a pathetic piece of PAPER that won't fit in a wallet without folding 3x, tears if folded more than a few times, and claims it isn't valid if laminated.

Idiots.

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

This is not the case... High Country Caregiver just wants to get high and have fun and offend as many of the thin skinned people as possible in the process. Come on kids try some of this, all the cool kids smoke pot!

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

He's "living the dream" now ... along with his cellmate, Pierre "Doctor Reefer" Werner.

Stay the Course !

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

The thing is that anyone can be anyone on here, same with any social networking site.  Westword and Disqus do not verify that you are who you say you are.  I think it's anonymous enough to avoid detection.  Plus what I'm saying is the truth, sorry to scare some of you into reality.

♚♚
♚♚

Elliott doesn't know when to shut up. Wouldn't you agree Tom?

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

... and force them to refund ALL the $$ they charged the patients who were given defective documentation.

Greenearthwellness
Greenearthwellness

I worked for Welldocs at a location they closed. They closed it because they saw a memo about it that came out several months ago and felt that until the PA/NP issue could was cleared up than it was best to be safe and only work with Docs.  No one ordered them to do it. I was sad to see them close the clinic. They were trying to do the right thing. There are many clinics right now that are using NP's and PA's that dont give a shit about the patients. Welldocs does. BY the way from every thing i have read about the madical pratice act, PA's and NP"s have the right to do these evasl. They always have. THE REGISTRY IS DEAD WRONG AND THEY KNOW IT. They are again trying to close our movement down!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

I understood that the CDPHE had registered patients on the basis of such recommendations.  The Physician's Assistant with whom I spoke opined that the operation of Federal law with respect to the prerogatives of nurse practioners meant that PAs could legally make recommendations under Article XVIII, Section 14, but I have not discussed this with lawyers. 

instntkrma
instntkrma

prior to October, tens of thousands of recs were signed by PAs - with the full knowledge of the Board of Health. I heard the reason for all of this was the Nurse Practitioner who signed a rec for a broken toe, under this same doc. 

Imagine19806
Imagine19806

I was told December 15th as well; which will make it 81 days. However, when I called the registry the lady told me she hadn't heard anything specifically of Boulder Welldocs applications being rejected. But who knows...

InterestingTake
InterestingTake

One of my friends went to talk to the docs at welldocs yesterday... The doctor has a file the size of "War and Peace" of physician's certificates that the State sent him to verify if they are signed by him or by the PA.  It is my understanding that if they were signed by the PA, he will have to contact you to schedule a time to see you himself...  

Guest
Guest

AND they said I should contact them if I've not heard back by 12/15!!! - which will be something over 70 days. How they hell am I supposed to get meds? 

InterestingTake
InterestingTake

The Arizona MMJ card is like a driver's license.  It's a green photo-id... Much nicer than the red cards here.  One of my patients' mom-in-law is visiting from AZ and showed me her card from there. 

SomeGuy
SomeGuy

I believe it is illegal under state law to market marijuana to "kids" "caregiver." Anyone with half a brain can find out your identity in under 5 minutes on the internet so it seems you are being unnecessarily risky with many of the statements you make using the name of your marijuana business. If you are taunting law enforcement officers you better be sure you are operating legally without question because if the feds target you there will be no chance at a medical defense.

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

Thought about it, still want to get high! Sorry SomeGuy, but the Westword forums are not a venture into sobriety.

SomeGuy
SomeGuy

You claim to be a caregiver in a medical marijuana program then comment frequently about it being a sham and how you think everyone is really recreational users getting high. Not smart taunting leos. Fine words from the caregiver: "Come on kids try some of this, all the cool kids smoke pot!" Please think before you speak.

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

OK, in all seriousness, what would I get locked up for?  I haven't committed any crime??

Rockymountains4life
Rockymountains4life

Nice one i will make sure to send you some $$$ for your commissary while your looked up.Just giving you a heads up jerk.

InterestingTake
InterestingTake

From Amendment 20:  "Written documentation" means a statement signed by a patient's physician or copies of the patient's pertinent medical records.When I read that to my family member who is a PA and was thinking about getting in to a clinic to help with recommending MMJ, he said "Then I cannot do that.  The State of Colorado defines physician as an MD or DO"...  Sure enough - in the definitions section of Amendment 20: "Physician" means a doctor of medicine who maintains, in good standing, a license to practice medicine issued by the state of Colorado."  

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Physicians can use PA's and NP's as long as they comply with Colorado Dept. of Health rules and regulations, and those of the DEA, with regards to Pharmaceutical prescriptions.

MMJ is NOT an FDA approved pharmaceutical, and MMJ has its own separate rules and regulations as set forth by the CDPHE, and the DOR. So if CDPHE and the State Legislature say that ONLY Physicians can examine, refer and sign MMJ referrals for red cards, then that's the way it is.

You fools begged for "REGULATION and TAXATION" of your "industry" ... and now you've got it.

.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

I find very hard to believe that they would be doing this if they did not have some legal standing.

LOL! ... that's what the dispensaries in Montana said.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

The use of NP's and PA's is regulated by the Colorado Dept. of Health and the DEA with regards to FDA approved Pharmaceutical drugs/prescriptions.

Marijuana is NOT an FDA approved pharmaceutical, and the entire MMJ scheme in Colorado has its own rules, laws and regulations under CDPHE and Dept. of Revenue, etc. As such, if CDPHE / CO Legislation says that ONLY PHYSICIANS can examine, refer and sign the MMJ referrals/apps, then that is the way it is.

The stoners begged for "REGULATION and TAXATION" of their precious pot ... and now they've got it ... in copious amounts.

Coona
Coona

I think you are going to find that there are many clinics that have been and are even now using NP's and PA's I know of at least 5 or 6 others. I'm sure there are more. I also know several docs that believe they have a legal right to do so and will not stop. I think when and if this issue ends up in court, you will find that these docs will win.

Boulderbabe
Boulderbabe

So, I just saw some thing here about 7 or 8 other clinics and docs using PA's and NP's. I find very hard to believe that they would be doing this if they did not have some legal standing. I believe this practice has been going on for at least 10 years. What the hell is really going on here. One of you guys said some thing smells here. No, It stinks!

Goodmeds
Goodmeds

You must be one of the STUPID ones on here. You are dead wrong. Docs have a legal right to use PA's and NPs as they see fit in Colorado. Perhaps you might give some thought as to weather the Registry and the CDPHE had the legal right to regulate this issue in the first place. The answer is no! The real issue is not weather some clinic like Red Card Districts is using PA's, It's what is the hidden agenda by the Registry and the CDPHE. Stupid

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Cashing in and running with the $$ ...

... ~3000 x $80 = $240,000 in office visit fees

plus $3000 x $90 = $270,000 liabilities from CDPHE patient registration fees that are now forfeit.

Ouch !!

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

WellDocs in Boulder was using PA's to sign for the non-present Physician as recently as a few weeks ago ... 

That method would be legal for real pharmaceutical drugs from pharmacies, but not under Colorado's over-regulated MMJ bureaucracy.

Whatever "lawyer" advised and signed-off on WellDoc's profit-making scheme of using PA's and photo-copied, pre-signed Physician referral forms is in deep doo-doo.

Hope both the Lawyer and WellDocs have generous E+O / Malpractice Insurance policy.

Guest
Guest

the owner of welldocs now claims to have sold the operation.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Boycott the optional CDPHE Registry !!

Save your $90, Colorado Amendment 20 only requires a physician referral, registration is entirely optional.

Benjamin_einhorn
Benjamin_einhorn

Under the medical practice act a physician does have the right to do these things. I agree with the person that said the REGISTRY IS DEAD WORNG. I to, think there is a very bad smell here. The Registry, Board of Health and the Medical board have an hidden agenda. THEY WANT TO GET RID OF AMENDMENT 20. We must stand up to them!!!!!

instntkrma
instntkrma

the problem is changing rules and the Department of Health's history of retroactively enforcing rule changes and rejecting applications. Various offices were OPENLY using PAs and LPNs and the BOH was well aware, and approving cards for recs signed by them under a docs license. There is no way for the doc office or the patient to know about the standard of care / acceptable criteria for approval if rules are changed after the fact. You can't even call questionable providers to task based on later-decided-grey-areas.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

WellDocs had 100s of blank Applications and Recommendations signed by the Physician, in advance. 

The PA would see and interview the patient -- the Doc wasn't even on location -- and then fill out the narrative portion of the Recommendation themselves, on behalf of the Physician.

This scheme would be legal under State and Federal laws for other Physician prescribed controlled substance, under rules established for Licensed Physician's Assistants.

If WellDocs is forced to refund all the Exam Fees AND the $90 state fees that the Patients have now lost, it would surely put them into bankruptcy.

Perhaps the State should require a Financial Bond be posted by any/all Physicians who write MJ referrals to protect the public/state against any damages -- same as they require for Dispensaries -- $1,000,000.00

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

"I talked to a well known MJ attorney today."

Don't be coy, go ahead and name him ... so he can own his foolish legal advice ... or disown you for misquoting him.

Coona
Coona

WRONG!  YOU ARE THE QUACK. I talked to a well known MJ attorney today. He said the CDPHE is way over reaching. He said no way will it stand the test of a legal action. The CDPHE has a history of jumping the gun.Remember people, The CDPHE, Medical Board and the Attorney General does not like us or Amendment 20. They will at every step, try to close us down.The CDPHE will create rules that have no legal standing just to force some one to spend large sums to go to court and right the wrongs that they do. Don't fall for the B.S. you will read above my comment. Before you know it all the MJ centers and clinics will be closed down. Just because a gov agency creates a rule, does not mean it is legal. We need Docs PA's and NP's to unite! They have to spend the money and get an attorney to fight for their right!!

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

The use of NP's and PA's is regulated by the Colorado Dept. of Health and the DEA with regards to FDA approved Pharmaceutical drugs/prescriptions.

Marijuana is NOT an FDA approved pharmaceutical, and the entire MMJ scheme in Colorado has its own rules, laws and regulations under CDPHE and Dept. of Revenue, etc. 

As such, if CDPHE / CO Legislation says that ONLY PHYSICIANS can examine, refer and sign the MMJ referrals/apps, then that is the way it is. MMJ has it's own unique and specific rules and regulations, entirely separate from pharmaceutical rules and regulations.Any "lawyer" you've spoken to who says otherwise is a quack.

HTH.

Coloski1
Coloski1

There are a lot of stupid people out there. Most of them must be on this page. First of all, don't you all get it. This PA/NP thing is really and attack by the CDPHE on amendment 20. I have an MJ doctor referral service. I know the law this area and i have read the Medical practice act several times. I have talked to lawyer's, PA's and NP's. THE CDPHE IS WRONG about this issue and they know it!! They do not have the right to restrict docs or their providers form doing the MJ evals. Shit heads, wake up!! they are trying to restrict patient access. Don't you all get it!! No, I don't think you should go to a clinic right now that is still using PA's or NP's until this issue is resolved. I. I also know who has been using and may still using PA's and NP's now. 1) Canna MD. 2) MMPA/Mobile Docs.3) Dr Frank Wright. 4) Dr Joe Montonti. 5) Red Card Districts. Freedom Health center ( was canna docs) 6) 7) Welldocs. 8) MM Docs. 9) CMM. So, you see there are many clinics out there using PA's and NP's. As i said I would not use them right now unless you know they are only using docs until this issue is cleared up. All these clinics and docs think they are right and should have the ability to use PA' and NP's. I agree with all of them. Don't let the CDPHE take away our right to patient access.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Broken toes -- as anyone who's suffered one can attest -- can be quite painful.

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