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Med. marijuana patient red card wait: 60 days & counting even though check cashed a month ago

Although Colorado Department of Health spokesman Mark Salley says red card renewal time for medical marijuana patients remains under 35 days, we keep hearing different stories. For instance, one patient tells us she's been waiting more than two months for her card despite the fact that the state cashed her check in early October.

The woman, who speaks on condition of anonymity, got her first medical marijuana red card in October 2009. She uses cannabis to ease neck and back pain and migraines she's suffered since getting into an auto accident four years ago. According to her, Advil Migraine and other prescription medication addresses her pain, but not the muscle tension in her shoulders that causes her headaches. In contrast, MMJ eases the pain and helps prevent or diminish the severity of future attacks -- plus, it's natural, and that fits better with her lifestyle.

Knowing that her card expired during the first week of October, the patient sent in her renewal information, including a doctor's recommendation, via certified mail on September 13. In early October, her check was cashed, suggesting that the card would be in her hands shortly. But no: At this writing, it still hasn't arrived.

During the past few weeks, the patient says she's phoned the CDPHE help line three times. The first two occasions, she left messages after being assured she'd be contacted within three business days. However, no calls came. So, for her third attempt, she insisted on chatting with someone right away. At that time, the woman with whom she spoke said her application was still under review and she should hear something within thirty days. That would push her total wait time to three months -- shy of the eight-month delays that struck last year, but far slower than promised.

How isolated is this scenario? Consider the case of William Breathes, our medical marijuana reviewer. He sent in his renewal 27 days ago, and when he called the help line this morning, he was told processing time is now a minimum of 35 days, not including mailing time.

Yes, his check has already been cashed, too.

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


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78 comments
Happy
Happy

Sent in my paperwork on Oct 24.....CDPHE cashed my check on Nov 11....Just got my card in the mail yesterday 11/17

gianna
gianna

I received some new information on this today:

"Thank you for following-up on your application. It is here at the Registry.  Currently it is delayed in review for verification of your Physician Certification.  The physician has been contacted.  We anticipate resolution within the next few weeks. If you have not received your card or a letter from us by December 1, please contact us again...."

So I called my physician's office, and was told that they were notified yesterday that ALL of their patients, for the last 60 days, have been held up in review.  Except of course that new patient applicant people can buy meds, and only renewal people are left out in the cold.

Keith Brickz
Keith Brickz

if the application hasnt been approved yet the check should of never been cashed thats just common sense

gianna
gianna

This was supposed to be a reply to another comment. Please delete.

Jenifer Nihiser
Jenifer Nihiser

I've been a card holder since 07' and have it for fybromyalgia, migraines, herniated disk throughout neck and back, ptds/ anxiety, and degenerative disk disorder. I found all of this out when I was injuered in an auto accident. The mmj help with most problems and helps on certain days for my sleep. But 'what the hell' is up with this? My card expired first of oct 7, 11' I sent out my renewl on spet 22, 11'. They have cashed my check but no license and we are past the whole 35days that my dispensory has told me. The problem I have is the fact that if your on a renewl you have to wait till you receive a red card in order to buy again. To me this is bulls**t! I think new patients should be the ones who have to wait and not us renewls for we have already had owr card; we are already practically approved cause we have had our license before. I think that they should make the new patients wait till they have their red card and renewls wait the 35days and or make the rules the same for all. They just need to quit taking peoples money if they aren't sending out their licenses the same time.

gianna
gianna

This is how they treat the taxpayers that pay their salaries. My renewal was received 9/26 and this was their email response to my inquiry, sent 10/31:"The Registry has received your application. It is currently delayed in the review process.  Until the review is completed, we have no additional information to provide.  If you have not heard from the Registry in the next 30 days, please contact us again."

When I got through on the phone, they told me not to bother them again until 12/5, and still could not (or would not) provide a reason for the delay.  In the meantime, a friend of mine who went to the same clinic and mailed the same paperwork got his renewal 10/17.

I sent a food-stamp letter for a fee waiver, and my friend sent a check.  If they had cashed my check, and not sent my card, like the person in the article; I would be livid.  However, I think that legally, a cashed check should be proof of renewal, card or not.

William Breathes
William Breathes

thanks for the comments everyone. Lets hope they speed things up.

DenverLiberal
DenverLiberal

This leads me to believe that lowering the state fee may be a huge mistake.  If this is the best they can do for $90 what's going to happen when the fee is only $35?At least the question needs to be asked. The CDPHE's hostility to this program is all to apparent.

Jake Browne
Jake Browne

The CDPHE can make you wait as long as they want to after a sloppy amendment to HB 1043. There exists no legal timetable in which they are required to approve your renewal.

If ever there was a need for an emergency hearing, this is it.

gianna
gianna

Was it a new application or renewal?

guest
guest

Which clinic was this gianna?

calhounp
calhounp

hope we deleted the right one; you posted several last night.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

You can legally obtain your "meds" from any of the 18,000+ Private Primary Caregivers in the State, even without a card. 

No need to shop at Retail Dispensaries.

gianna
gianna

You should take your cancelled check to your dispensary and tell them it proves you are entitled to buy meds.  Tell them that if they won't help you, they'll never see you again, as there are plenty of dispensaries.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

The $90 registration (extortion) is for suckers.

Registration is entirely voluntary, it is not needed to be covered by the protections of Amendment 20. The ONLY thing you need to be protected by Amendment 20 is your Physician's recommendation.

Period.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Registration with CDPHE is entirely optional, not required to be covered by the protections of Amendment 20.

Save your $$ and boycott the entire Colorado Government grab of patient money.

Franco
Franco

Perhaps this is a tactic to show why the cdphe couldn't operate with a smaller fee. I call bullshit on the cdphe for the delay in processing apps. A private agency could do what the cdphe does for the medical marijuana program for a fraction of the cost. Government bloat programs have ruined this fine nation.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

The Constitution explicitly requires that the CDPHE verify patients' information within thirty days and issue a card within five more days (Colorado Constitution, Article XVIII, Section 14(3)(c)), and it also provides that when the Department fails to do so  that "the patient's application for such card will be deemed to have been approved" (Colorado Constitution, Article XVIII, Section 14(3)(d)) -- nothing in any statute of the General Assembly can compromise these requirements.

Jmo177
Jmo177

No doubt!  Where can I file a complaint? I am expired and waiting for my card.

gianna
gianna

I live in CSprings.  The clinic is called Trinity Wellness.  I just got new info today that the holdup was because MMR wanted a copy of the doc's DEA license.  But MMR sat on hundreds of applications from his clinic for 60 days before requesting the information.  Now that MMR has the info, they are still going to wait until Dec 1, before starting to process those applications.  Moreover, I was able to verify the doctor's DEA license for free on the internet in about 2 minutes.  Moreover, it's the duty of another state agency (DORA) to verify the doc's DEA license as part of his state medical licensing process, so they could have checked with DORA, This is bureaucratic abuse.  The people at MMR are using technicalities to justify the existence of their jobs, at the expense of sick patients. We are literally seeing how red-tape is created as part of the genesis of a new government agency.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

It isn't the dispensary's discretion as to which Colorado laws they may follow and which they can ignore.

HTH.

Jake Browne
Jake Browne

Right, you don't need a card, just go to court and present your affirmative defense. Then your neighbors, co-workers and family can know all about your medical condition and your use of cannabis. Sounds completely worth $90.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Exactly !!

Amendment 20 rules the day -- HB1284 and 1043 cannot restrict, limit or infringe upon the  rights granted by the Constitution.

Jake Browne
Jake Browne

This is where it gets tricky. That's true, but there is this part of HB1043 that precludes purchases from MMCs:

"A purchaser may not provide a copy of a renewal application in order to make a purchase at a medical marijuana center."

Patients who have grown accustomed to using an MMC are left waiting, which I believe is a calculated move by the CDPHE. Logically, renewals should be easier to process than new applicants. 

William Breathes
William Breathes

Yes, but for applications not renewals. Of course, it doesn't specifically not include renewals in the Amendment 20 language, but then again it doesn't include them either. Therein lies the problem with interpretation - and according to the CDPHE's interpretation:

"The Registry is anticipating a high volume of annual renewals in the next few months.  The renewal process is the same as for new applicants. Applicants are encouraged to begin the process 45 – 60 days before their card’s expiration date.  Renewal applications cannot be used as evidence of registration for medical marijuana purchases."

http://www.cdphe.state.co.us/h...

gianna
gianna

I was told by MMR to send a written complaint, that there is a review board specifically to review such complaints. I emailed mine:

The validity of my medical condition is indisputable.  I have a twenty year history of chronic pain from a spinal disc problem.  It is a permanent problem.  It only gets worse over time.  Since this is a renewal, you have already determined that I am medically eligible.  This delay must be because of some technical or procedural issue relating to my renewal, most likely having to do with my indigency waiver.

It has been six full weeks since you received my renewal application.  Now Carla tells me it could be until December 5th before you resolve my application?  You received it September 26.  That is way more than two months, and you won't accept any applications more than two months out.  So I am denied access to my medicine.  That's the point.  This is not like a delay in unemployment delaying payments that are eventually paid.  When you finally straighten this out, you can't undo the pain I am suffering as a result.  Bureaucratic issues do not justify causing people to suffer.  If I had cancer, a delay like this could cause my death.

I also think it's absurd that you think you can tell me that my application is delayed, and not tell me why.  No other state agency would try that, no other government agency, no business, nobody.  You can't just tell somebody, "Yours is a special case that will take longer than usual, but we have no explanation why."

Moreover, it's wrong that after 35 days, a new applicant can buy meds, but not a renewal patient.  The presumption should be that the renewal patient has an established right to use the medicine, unless and until such is revoked.  The renewal patient should be able to purchase meds from the day that they have proof the renewal application was mailed.

Jake Browne
Jake Browne

Welcome to the double edged sword. You could call/write to the CDPHE, but that will only slow them down more. There is a hearing regarding reducing the application fee tomorrow, but it's unlikely they'll want to hear about wait times. 

The Board of Health Hearing will be at the Colorado Department of Public Health, 4300 Cherry Creek Drive South, Denver, CO. It would be nice to see a large turnout.

gianna
gianna

Spoken like a long-time, law-breaking marijuana smoker and activist, you mean.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

 A dispensary that sells to someone whose renewal has not been approved in a timely matter has a plausible legal defense, ...

No, they have no defense, neither under Colorado Statute -- HB1284 -- nor under Amendment 20.

... would be likely to win,

No they wouldn't. They would likely lose their MMC license for willful violation of DOR regulations.

 ... and would set an important precedent.

No, it wouldn't. 

They'd be as successful as a Liquor store arguing they had a right to sell alcohol to someone under 21 years old.

HTH.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

  It's at everybody's discretion what laws to follow and which to ignore. ...A person can break any law that they can get away with breaking

Spoken line a true criminal sociopath.

So noted.

gianna
gianna

What are you, a law and order freak?  You ever jaywalk or roll through a stop sign?  It's at everybody's discretion what laws to follow and which to ignore.  It's one thing to write a law, and another to enforce it.  A person can break any law that they can get away with breaking.  Besides which, the state constitution says after 35 days an applicant can buy if their application has not been denied.  Saying a renewal is not an application is bureaucratic hair splitting, and that can be decided in court.  A dispensary that sells to someone whose renewal has not been approved in a timely matter has a plausible legal defense, would be likely to win, and would set an important precedent.  In conclusion, the dispensary would probably get away with it, if they got caught the MMR probably wouldn't do anything for fear of setting a contrary precedent, if MMR did press it the dispensary would probably win, and what does this poor, sick woman have to lose by trying?

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

There is nothing in case law, statute, or constitution that supports your claim that having a "red card" -- which is merely the registration of a Physician Referral -- offers any more legal protection than simply having the underlying Physician Referral without registering it.

There is NO requirement under Amendment 20 that mandates the registration of a Physician Referral with the State -- merely having the Physician Referral provides the full protection of Amendment 20.

Travis Lee Howard
Travis Lee Howard

Donkey, your first statement is simply untrue.  Your second statement is true. Your third statement, while true, lacks the most important factor - perspective.

I spend time with many criminal and mmj attorneys and I can assure you that possession of a Red Card is much more likely to keep you out of court, and failure to keep one in your pocket creates a greater possibility.

I agree that it isn't necessary, and that each person should decide, we are not sheeple (or shouldn't be), but clear honesty when giving advice is always best.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Legal FAIL!

Red cards are no more "proof" of a Physician Referral than the Physician Referral itself.

Ipso Facto.

Jake Browne
Jake Browne

That's disingenuous at best. Red cards are much more likely to be seen by law enforcement as proof. A rec can stand up in court, but at that point you've lost the war to win the battle.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

You're entirely mistaken if you think registering your Doctor referral will keep you out of court any more than simply having the referral.

Under Amendment 20, the ONLY thing you need is the Doctor Referral.

Registration is entirely optional, and gains no more rights than the referral itself.

HTH.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Legislation cannot circumvent or overrule Constitutional Rights, any provisions in 1284, 1043, etc that attempt to infringe upon Amendment 20 would be tossed upon challenge.

You can thank Rob Corry for bringing the now precedent expanded definition/requirements of "Primary Caregiver" to Colorado. He's the fool who pushed the loser Clendenin case to the Colorado Supreme Court, which predictably adopted the California Supreme Court standard and definition.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

-- but it doesn't!  The effect of any number of provisions in SB10-109, HB10-1284, HB11-1043, and the decisive reversal of the position of the BOH (discrediting caregivers' knowledge and counsel, and pretending to require them to perform menial labor for their patients) has been to contradict the letter and spirit of Article XVIII, Section 14 -- it remains to be seen whether any of the unconstitutional provisions of statute or regulation will be repudiated by the courts, which likely share the same BS assumption implanted in the heads of legislators by the silly propagandists at the Post, i.e. that some sort of emergency was posed by caregivers selling cannabis to patients retail.  I am not apprised of the status of the PCRLP's action, but there has been a dearth of challenges made so far.

Travis Lee Howard
Travis Lee Howard

Jake, I couldn't agree more.  My brother started KindReviews in early 2009 and I can't tell you how hard it was for him to get information from an MMC (then a dispensary) on the strain, growing medium, or anything else.  The flowers were from caregivers and no information passed hands.  Additionally, MOST of the medicine reviewed through mid 2010 had one of the issues you mention above.

I was also around a LOT of caregiver patient drives through doctors at that time.  The major complaint was that their caregivers never called them back, never had a consistent supply of the same strain, and still charged the old street prices.  I'm not saying that all caregivers were that way, because I personally met many that were not.  I had the pleasure of finding many caregivers that grew the best" medicine in the state and for very fair prices - it was in fact high quality and safe.

The most interesting aspect of the issue, in my opinion, is the education of new patients totally unfamiliar with the medicine.  Caregivers didn't provide "Drop Its" or similar products at that time (all of the tinctures and similar items I tried at the time were terrible), nor did most of them spend the time educating that some of the better MMCs do today.  Pros and cons to each side of this, but blanket statements about the intelligence (or ethics) of a group of people or businesses you can't begin to pigeonhole clearly demonstrates the intelligence of the one very specific individual making such claims.

Jake Browne
Jake Browne

I worked in the industry when caregivers still came in off the street and I can guarantee you that not everything they grow turns to gold. We turned away so much mold, mite and pm infested bud we had to put out a primer for novice users on how to spot them.

There is a difference between a medical user and a pot snob. Herb grown at dispensaries helps people manage their conditions without the huge sticker price. 

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Quality vs. Quantity

Do you do all your shopping at Walmart ?

Jake Browne
Jake Browne

The idea that MMC's are overpriced is hilarious, even for you Donkey Hotay. The cost of an 1/8th has only dropped since retail establishments opened three years ago, something caregivers couldn't do in the seven years preceding.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

The vast majority of Patients in Colorado either grow their own, or use Private Primary Caregivers.

Overpriced, Privacy Infringing MMC's are for suckers and newbies.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

So don't file a "renewal" ... file a "new" application each and every year.

William Breathes
William Breathes

thanks Robert. Just trying to keep things clear to patients so they don't try and show up at MMCs with renewal paperwork and be denied by folks trying to keep up with the ever-changing medical marijuana laws.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

Renewals are applications (and note the Department's statement that "The renewal process is the same as for new applicants").

There are the explicit requirements of our Constitution, and then there are the evasions, circumlocutions, and contradictions of it in recent enactments by the General Assembly and regulations promulgated by the State's bureaucrats.  I do not want to mislead anyone as to the magnitude of the gulf between the two, which is vast.

By all means, if you want to shop in MMCs and/or be able to offer a red card if challenged, pay attention to what the CDPHE says.  It would be great if more people were willing and able to litigate in favor of our Constitution over the machinations of the General Assembly and the bureaucrats, but most consumers (as opposed to politically aware patients) think that this pact with the Devil will stave off the Feds -- despite Federal raids since the enactment of HB10-1284, the issue remains unresolved, and a slew of industry apologists are poised to decry each successive victim as non-compliant with State law (even as they are arrested or their assets seized for being non-compliant with Federal law).

Jake Browne
Jake Browne

Insult to injury: the CDPHE knew there would be a backlog but didn't release any information to warn patients they couldn't use temporary paperwork for renewal applications until October 27th, when it was clearly too late. When they did, it was a single line that the average person missed.

This agency has taken millions of dollars from sick people it still treats as second class citizens. 

Disgusting.

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