Medical marijuana: Red card wait times increasing?

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A year ago, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment was so backlogged with medical-marijuana license applications that patients had to wait as long as eight months after filing paperwork before they got their red cards.

And now, as this bubble of patients rises to the surface to renew those licenses, are there once again delays at the state's Medical Marijuana Registry? That depends on who you talk to.

Mark Salley, CDPHE spokesman, acknowledges that his department has seen a lot of registry re-applications from cardholders who were a part of the big rush last year. But he says staffers haven't had nearly the number of problems with processing this time around. He estimates that the office is currently averaging about a two-week turnaround time. At most, the cards are taking a month to process, but nothing going over 35 days, he said.

"It was this time of the year that we got that influx," he said. "But there is no backlog. The vast majority are being processed on schedule."

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But talk to dispensary owners, doctors and medical marijuana patients and you'll get a different story. I've received numerous newsletter e-mails from dispensaries over the last month with stories of patients waiting five weeks or more for their renewal. And I was told by my physician not to expect my card by the time my current one expires.

Unlike first-time applicants, who can use their doctor's paperwork to purchase medicine from dispensaries until their red card arrives in the mail, renewing patients can only rely on their red card. According to the CDPHE: " Renewal applications cannot be used as evidence of registration for medical marijuana purchases." That means some patients are going to be left in a gap where they can't purchase meds -- a problem I've heard firsthand while visiting dispensaries over the past few weeks.

To be fair, the CDPHE suggests you renew your card well in advance of the old one's expiration to prevent this problem.

What about our experiences at Mile Highs and Lows? Our marijuana intern, Sensi Skywalker, waited about a month for her renewal to arrive in the mail, and I've been waiting for just over two weeks as of today. Last year, it took four months to recieve my renewal, so I guess just about anything will be better than that. But if Salley is correct, I shouldn't be waiting much longer.

That said, I'll still be stocking up on chronic this week, just in case.

*note: this post originally incorrectly stated that renewals could be used to purchase medicine. It has been changed to reflect the correct information.

More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana card fees to drop, if that's okay with you."

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25 comments
MMelvin901
MMelvin901

Anyone know what the current wait times are, been waiting 4 weeks on a renewal, just wondering if anyone had any info

Still Waitin'...
Still Waitin'...

It has been over 60 days since my renewal was submitted to the CDPHE (certified with receipt) a I have yet to be approved or denied. I spoke to someone at the CDPHE today that confirmed that my application has been received, is still being reviewed, and that I should expect to hear back from someone in regards to the status in 30 days (or well over 90 days since they received it).

I inquired as to what the hold up was, and they were unable to answer. I asked if anything was missing, and they were unable to answer. I asked why so many other applications received after mine had already been processed, and they were unable to answer. I asked why it would take them longer to review an application that is already in their possession than they claim to be able to process one that was just received, and they were unable to answer. 

The inability of the CDPHE to process MMR applications in a timely fashion has made it impossible to keep one's status as a legal MMJ patient up to date. They reject applications that are sent in prior to 60 days before the previous one expires, yet if you turn in your application on time, they can't process it before your old one expires. You can do everything by the book they wrote, and yet still be stuck in limbo... with them unable to answer why. 

Marty
Marty

Renewal mailed Oct 7th, received today, Nov 12th.  Seems like a normal amount of time for a turnaround.

DenverN8v
DenverN8v

In 2010 I sent in my app on 7/9 and received a red card on 11/4 (expiration date of 10/26). This year I sent in renewal paperwork on 10/7 and received the red card on 11/3. Good improvement by CDPHE.

NateW
NateW

Lucky.  I sent mine in on 9/20 (at least that's the date they received it) and I have yet to get mine as of now.

Audionthusiast
Audionthusiast

I renewed about 3 weeks agoWas at BKC yesterday with my paperwork, I did NOT have the certified mail receipt that indicated I had actually sent the paperwork in. THAT was what they wanted more than anything, and since I did not have it with me, I could not buy. 

Southwest Alternative Care
Southwest Alternative Care

"To be fair, the CDPHE suggests you renew your card well in advance of the old one's expiration to prevent this problem."We were encouraging our patients to renew well in advance too, but according to a pamphlet mailed to us by the CDPHE last week, any renewals submitted prior to 60 days before one's renewal will be denied. 

Oh and currently they are averaging at least 35 days. 

William Breathes
William Breathes

Thanks for the comments everyone. I'm interested to hear about other wait times as well, so feel free to keep that discussion going here.

hope all your bowls are packed and you're staying warm and toasted on this chilly, snow-covered evening.

Ian Williams
Ian Williams

Will, should be mentioned that if the application is turned in more than 60 days before your expiration, it will also be rejected. - per MMED

sojournerC
sojournerC

They will reject the app, but will cash your $90 check. 

Citizen80919
Citizen80919

and this is so wrong.  How can they justify keeping the $90 but mailing you notice that you applied too early so they are not sending your $90 back.  CDPHE is nothing more than another money grubbing governmental pile of BLOAT!

Jake Browne
Jake Browne

If you're renewing, nothing other than a red card will allow you to purchase medicine, even after 35 days.

"Renewal applications cannot be used as evidence of registration for medical marijuana purchases."

Monkey
Monkey

I always wondered what that was about. Makes sense a new patient would not have plants growing or know a caregiver so I'm glad they allow them to use centers but why are renewals who aren't growing or using a caregiver not allowed to use the center they normally use or even the one they designate with the registry. Seems a patient with ongoing medical issues should also be allowed to use centers if they choose, even if the registry is backlogged. I'm all for people growing themselves or using a caregiver but taking away the privilege to shop at dispensaries just because they've registered before and the registry has not opened their mail yet seems irrational.

Betty Aldworth
Betty Aldworth

Monkey, the state legislature was originally going to disallow *any* patient from purchasing with paperwork, but a group of us successfully convinced them that it was cruel to force a patient in hospice to wait--perhaps months--for meds. After a great deal of talking about how the CDPHE and centers could certify that a patient was in hospice, it was deemed simpler to just let all new patients shop using paperwork, assuming that most hospice patients would be new. 

Monkey
Monkey

Oh, ok. Thanks. I guess you might have had something to do with the homebound waiver too? I'm a caregiver for someone in hospice and can tell you first hand they are not able to go shopping in centers. I'm not sure I need a waiver to deliver because I can posses and transport marijuana from anywhere anyway but I'm glad this is available to people who need it.

Colorado Mmj Patient
Colorado Mmj Patient

Yes hurry up an renew before they drop our fees for the card.  It is ridiculous that they have been delaying the reduction.  How greedy can you get?

Ian Williams
Ian Williams

The public meeting to discuss the fee reduction has been scheduled for November 16th @ Co. Dept. of Health 4300 Cherry Creek Drive S., Denver.

www.cdphe.state.co.us/op/bh/

sojournerC
sojournerC

The public meeting is a JOKE. Of course we want the fee reduced. Who's going to oppose it? 

Colorado Mmj Patient
Colorado Mmj Patient

IIRC they have been talking about it since late July early August.  I bet they decided to wait because most of the patients are up for renewals now. 

Monkey
Monkey

New forms and the "caregiver patient limit waiver" came out too, might cause more of a delays for everyone. Looks very simple though, nothing to verify so if you fill it out correctly it shouldn't take them much more time.

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