Med. marijuana: Just because William Breathes got his card doesn't mean all's right with registry

Categories: Marijuana

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Unlike so many patients stuck in medical marijuana limbo, I received my red card in the mail this week -- 29 days from the date I sent my information and a check for $90 to the Colorado Department of Health and Environment. It was postmarked a week after it was issued, which could be the fault of the post office, so I'll let it slide. But I don't think for a second that things are okay because my card came on time.

Meanwhile, scores of patients have been telling us here at Mile Highs and Lows about their several-month wait times and the complete lack of communication from the CDPHE about anything related to red card processing. Several commenters say they've called in to ask questions and have been told there is a delay -- but they aren't told what that delay is. When they call back for more information, they are told not to call back again for several weeks.

Take Kyle, a budtender over at Serenity Moon, the dispensary I reviewed earlier this month. The guy works around herb all day long, but he can't legally go home with any from his shop because his card expired. He says he's been waiting more than seventy days for the registry to get its act together and has made several calls. But thus far, he's only received the runaround.

"It got to the point where I had to go back to my arthritis doctor and get back on part of the pain meds," he says. "This is taking way too long, but I don't want to break the rules. They are forcing me back to something that is horrible for me."

We got some insight about the delay on Wednesday, as Ron Hyman, the Office of Vital Statistics and Medical Marijuana Registry's registrar and director, told the Board of Health that there are about 3,200 patient applications on hold at the CDPHE for what some speculate could be a major problem with physicians' signatures. Hyman indicated that things won't start to be sorted out until the beginning of December at the earliest. To make matters worse, patients who are stuck in the holding patter can't simply re-apply -- they have to wait until their application on hold is denied.

Last year, when renewal applications were still accepted at MMCs after 35 days and CDPHE delays were taking months to process, patients got what amounted to an extension on their license. Now, with that rule no longer in effect, delays like these mean time without access to meds for thousands of Coloradans. As CDS manager Jake Browne pointed out in the comments section the other day: "How much worse does this need to get before the CDPHE holds an emergency meeting?"

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William Breathes
I definitely understand where he's coming from. As a medical marijuana patient, it's hard to ignore issues like this when even Board of Health members question how well the registry is communicating, as they did at the Wednesday meeting.

The public is confused, and the answers patients have been getting from the department aren't doing much to make sense of things. With the public trust in its ability to perform rapidly declining for the second year in a row, the CDPHE should strive to be truly transparent instead of just talking about it.

William Breathes is the pot pen name for our Medical Marijuana Dispensary Critic, his dispensary reviews run weekly in our marijuana blog, Mile Highs and Lows. Keep up with all your marijuana news at The Latest Word.

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pablo
pablo

I'm in limbo.  I went to WellDocs on Federal in Westminster.  They screwed up twice.  Once by leaving the date off, then again by having the PA instead of the Phys. sign. 

Giannia
Giannia

It's not just one clinic.  As I posted below, my clinic did everything right, and all their patients are still getting screwed.

Coloski1
Coloski1

YOU ARE RIGHT! There are many more clinics and Docs out there using PA's and NP's. It is not just one. I am told they all believe they are on good legal standing if it ever was to go to court. I spoke to one doc who hopes it does go to court. If you give shit to one, you should give it to all. I think because so many MJ professionals think this issue has always been a gray area, and that the Registry and the CDPHE has OPENLY LET THIS GO ON FOR MANY, MANY YEARS, that the CDPHE should let these 3,200 Dr evals go through and clear this up once and for all. This B.S. seems like just another attack on patients rights. Does any one agree? Or are you all just dumb asses looking to attack attack some one. You need to look at the source of the problem. It's the Medical Board, and the CDPHE. They do not like us. They will do anything to shut us down. For quite some now they have been after the MJ centers. It was only a matter of time before they turned their attention to MJ Docs and Clinics. Next they will be coming for YOU, shit head.

InterestingTake
InterestingTake

One of my employees went to talk to the docs at Welldocs yesterday.  The State has sent them back a stack of the physician certificates to have the doctor verify whether it was his signature or a PA's signature on each of them.  If I understand correctly, it is his responsibility to make sure that they are in fact doc's signatures and if not, then he has to call the patient and set up an appointment to see the patient again (probably for free).  

The thing is, this is not something new - this is just something that is finally being enforced.  In Amendment 20, it states that it must be a physician who signs off on the recommendation.  It then defines Physician as "a doctor of medicine who maintains, in good standing, a license to practice medicine issued by the state of Colorado.".   PAs and NPs are not "doctors of medicine" they are PAs and NPs.  Only MDs and DOs can sign off on a recommendation. 

It sucks to be stuck in limbo.  I understand that.  I have many of my center's patients (and a couple of employees) stuck in limbo right now, and they have been waiting since August - one due to a huge mistake on CDPHE's end of things... For that patient in particular, I do blame CDPHE, but for the others?  I can't really blame CDPHE for enforcing the laws/constitutional amendment.  

Nate505
Nate505

I'm curious, I went to Welldocs and just looked up the doctor that was on the application.  According to a link posted above (thanks for that, BTW) the doctor is a physician and in good standing.

Is it possible that I was seen by PA and they signed off on it?  That almost seems illegal when it says "physician's signature" on the bottom of the application.  The signature, like from most doctor's, is not all the legible but it sort of looks like the physician's name.

This would make sense if this was the problem since I sent in my application 2 months ago and nothing has happened.  I did email them and they said my application was still in the review process or whatever.

InterestingTake
InterestingTake

One of my patients was seen by the mobile doctors, and she has been waiting since August.

GF
GF

How do y'all like your master now? 

Oh, please master have mercy on me grant me the permission to obtain, what would otherwise be, my natural born right to use what the good Lord has created.

Ron Paul 2012- Colorado you only have until Dec. 7 to register Republican so we can all get a chance to just live in peace- and not ask for permission like a ten year old.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

LOL!

The clueless stoners and fools openly begged The Government to Tax and Regulate their precious "medicine" ...

... and they have now received that they asked for.

TAX It MORE !! ... REGULATE It MORE !! ...

Duncan20903
Duncan20903

Ron Paul is not in favor of the re-legalization of cannabis by any stretch of the imagination. He has no problem at all if a State wants to give you 20 years for a joint.

Death and Texas
Death and Texas

TX Republican Representative Ron Paul's clear and consistent policy on drug use is that no one should be locked up for what they decide to put into their own body, provided they're harming no one else, and furthermore, that it's none of the government's business. 

Government includes police, prosecutors, and the rest of the prison/industrial complex, which is lobbying fiercely (along with the other superfluous industries that would suffer, big oil, for instance, should hemp be legalized) to block the passage of any and every MMJ measure they hear of, not to mention outright legalization*.Ron Paul 2012! He doesn't use cannabis himself (probably due to his home state's draconian laws re the matter), so he might not be alive the next time around... it's now or never, people. Wake up. Please. Don't let the cult of mormons buy the destruction of medicinal cannabis the way they insidiously purchased the decimation of rational propositions in California, due to their paranoid, twisted world-views on social issues, and, I guess, their worst fear -- that homosexuals will reproduce if you allow them a civil ceremony and equal rights.

It's time to take back our government from those who would deceive us... something like 80 percent of American adults favor the legalization of medicinal cannabis for seriously ill people, which will include EVERYBODY, at some point in their lives -- particularly near the end, in many cases. The latest Gallup Poll shows fully 50%, yes HALF of all voting age respondents, favor legalization of marijuana for any adult, for any reason. Contrast this with the number of our elected representatives who reflect our wishes on this matter... you will be shocked. It's closer to zero percent, proportionally.

Don't vote for people (like Obama) who would have you arrested for your choice of medicine or social stimulant, regardless of their own indulgence in the beneficent herb. Hold your local, state and federal officials accountable (you voted them in, or allowed them to be elected by not voting) and keep them true to their promises, lest they be unseated.

I don't know or work for Congressman Paul, but his policies are sound, and will balance the budget, stop the arrest and incarceration of millions of innocent people (mostly youths of color in large cities), and set the world on a course for slowed climate change, and for peace, by example. 

Peace and herb.

Death and Texas.

* What about the outright legalization? I said not to mention it! Hahaha. That's too big a step for the current crop of dinosaurs and lobbyist-corrupted politicians. We have to vote a LOT of those types out, before we can secure meaningful change at any level.

Monkey
Monkey

Not true, he is in favor of re-legalizing all drugs. He is also for states rights, I think you're confusing the two.

gianna
gianna

Typical Ron Paul thinking.  Don't even try to look below the surface.  What's on the surface is all there is.

It's not about obtaining weed.  Dispensaries are convenient.  There is no waiting for somebody to call back, no "I'm reupping on Thursday I'll call you."  People with redcards have every option for obtaining weed that you have, and more.

But it's bigger than me getting my redcard.  It's about making government work.  Citizens acting to make government serve them, instead of the other way around.

gianna
gianna

Last year I went to my primary care physician and asked him to sign my initial red card application.  I have an "obliterated" spinal disc from an industrial accident 24 years ago, well documented my CT and MRI scans, which gives me chronic sciatic pain - so my eligibility is a no-brainer.  The doc wouldn't do it, because of federal issues.  I can't blame him, and if I was him, I wouldn't do it.  Nonetheless I pressed him and we had a big argument (actually documented in his notes) and he finally agreed to do it for $250.  I hoped he would do for less this year, for my renewal, but he wanted $350 bucks.  I'm on foodstamps and way behind in my rent.  So I went to a clinic that charged $85, with a $25 rebate from a dispensary to make them my center.

The doc there is running the clinic because he believes in MMJ, not to make money.  Most of the docs he knows refuse to sign apps period.  He was amazed that I had got my doc to do it the first time.  The MMJ doc did 6 exams in an hour, and then gave us a group lecture on safe and proper use of the meds.

The MMR recieved my app on 9/26, and sat on it, providing no info on the delay.  Finally on 11/16 they informed me that my app was delayed for "review of my physician certification".  Back-checking with the clinic, I found that all of their patients for the last 60 days were held up for review, and that the clinic had been asked on 11/15 to submit a copy of the doc's DEA license.  They promptly did so, but were told that the MMR would not START processing their patient's apps until 12/1.

There was no reason to sit on the apps for 60 days before requesting the info.  Imagine you take a prescription to Walgreens, and they sit on it for 60 days, and then request a copy of the doc's license, and then fill your scrip two weeks after they get the license.

Moreover, it is the responsibility of another state agency (DORA) to verify doctors' DEA licenses as part of their license to practice in Colorado.  Why couldn't MMR have verified my doc's license with DORA as soon as there was a problem?  Moreover, I was able to verify my doc's DEA license in two minutes on the internet, for free.

 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.

Coloski1
Coloski1

This is more or less, the same B.S. they are pulling on all the patients who saw PA's and NP's  under a docs license this year. There is very bad smell here and it's coming from the offices of the CDPHE

Duncan20903
Duncan20903

gianna, in Conant v Walters 309 F.3d 629 (2002), cert denied Oct. 14, 2003 the Federal Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled that doctors have a Constitutional right protected by the First Amendment to make recommendations of cannabis for medicinal need. Colorado is in the 9th Circuit so the decision is binding in Colorado, and Colorado doctors have absolutely no reason to fear Federal persecution for recommending medicinal cannabis to patients claiming the protection of Amendment 20.

The SCOTUS wasn't interested in hearing the ONDCP's lame arguments in their attempted appeal.

http://www.chrisconrad.com/exp...

Zan Dimmer
Zan Dimmer

Its all of the doctors (using that term loosely here) who take 30 patients an hour. Any place that is charging less than $100, advertises a lot, and has their physician assistant signing the registry form all while 18-24 year olds shuffle by you should probably be avoided. My advice is to go to YOUR primary physician that you see and ask for their recommendation.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Accurate advice ... except that one should NEVER use their Primary Care Physician for MMJ, always use a cut-out doctor so that your permanent medical record/history (health insurance industry record) isn't tainted with the stain/stigma of marijuana.

Such a taint will come back to haunt thousands of patients if/when the Republikkkans ever regain control of Government / Law EnFORCEment.

Jim Freire
Jim Freire

You don't know screwed till you look at Oregon! I have waited 6months for my card in the past and I do not believe the rate hike to 200$/yr is going tword changing that. I voted a law into effect over 10yrs ago. The law we now have is almost 180degrees from the intent of the original OMMA. FYI with the rate hikes and Dr.s wanting 200+ cash for a recommendation it is 400$/yr to be legal in Oregon now. This and no legal outlet for excess meds is driving the whole community to the underground medical marijuana market which the ridiculous attitude of persecution is creating....again. 

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Be thankful that Oregon wasn't foolish enough to allow Retail Dispensaries and the subsequent massive Regulations, Restrictions, Taxes and Fees that followed in Colorado.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Sorry to hear about your situation, Jim -- but thanks for sharing your experiences.

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

Thanks for that info Jim.  Are there dispensaries in Oregon?  Colorado has done a pretty jack ass job of taking all the fun out of medical marijuana too.

Jay
Jay

People like you who consider medical marijuana to be 'fun' are exactly why people have a problem with medical cannabis here in Colorado.

Too many amateur, recreational druggies who use medical names methinks.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Legalize Medicinal Heroin !!

Legalize Medicinal Crack !!

Legalize Medicinal LSD !!

Live Free of DIE !

Duncan20903
Duncan20903

What I consider amazing is the cruel, inhuman, and morally bankrupt thought that somehow the fact that there maybe those who enjoy cannabis using medicinal cannabis in Colorado as a means to avoid a fine of $100 that it somehow means it's OK to deprive the very real patients who are suffering very real and deleterious medical conditions  from which said patients get very real relief from medicinal cannabis.

My mom taught me that the needs of the sick are the most important consideration in this and very similar situations. It appears to me that your mom taught you that your petty annoyances are the more important consideration. Please forgive me if my presumption that you actually had a mom rather than crawling out from under a rock.

Do you think that the patients who are malingering would actually be deprived of cannabis were they actually kept from shopping in dispensaries? It requires brain dead thinking to come to such a conclusion.

Randy Skunk
Randy Skunk

Some of us patients have more than enough, since some of us grow our own. And some of us could give a crap less if a narrow minded dipshit thinks that if I get some sort of enjoyment out of my medication use, I am a law breaker and or fake or should not be using cannabis or even better yet, I need to be dying to use it............ignorance knows no bounds, still, although it has taken on a new face I see. Cannabis keeps my insides from feeling like they are falling out of my rectum, if I get some satisfaction or even some down right f'n pleasure from it, who the hell is anyone to tell me it is wrong. Last I checked Morphine,Somas,Klonopins and so on MAKE YOU FEEL REAL DAMN GOOD! So now what?

Matt Rize
Matt Rize

so if you use cannabis medicinally you are a patient, if you use it recreationally you are a  druggie? FAIL!

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

I don't know where you are in Colorado, but I don't think I'm in the minority for having a good time.  And who are you suggesting has a problem with cannabis in Colorado, there is plenty of cannabis in Colorado, so no one should have a cannabis problem as you suggest. Lot's of cannabis = good time for all! Happy 4:20 burn one down and relax and have fun!

Seriously
Seriously

Could someone maybe get the names of questionable doctors from the CDPHE so that we don't go use them?

Monkey
Monkey

Do it yourself. You can check the status of you're doctor anytime, just make sure the doc signs it and not their little helpers. If the doc has their stuff photocopied, look over it carefully and match the docs name to the signature. And call them lazy. Here is a link to the site where everyone can check on their own doctor.https://www.doradls.state.co.u...

sojournerC
sojournerC

It is my understanding that 'Well Docs' is the office in question, but don't take that to the bank. 

Guest
Guest

Well Docs is in question.  All applications with Well Docs doctors are being scrutinized.  Do not go there.  They have shoddy service and don't know what they're doing down there.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

They'll soon be bankrupt if they have to refund the now forfeit $90 CDPHE patient application fees for the ~3000 patients who have received defective referrals/applications from them, much less having to refund 3000+ office visit fees they charged.

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