Ask a Stoner: William Breathes answers your questions about Amendment 64 and more
Since the passage of Amendment 64, which legalizes adult possession of an ounce or less of marijuana, have you been getting questions about how it will work? So have we. To help clear the foggy air, we've asked medical marijuana dispensary critic William Breathes to follow in the footsteps of the OC Weekly's Gustavo Arellano, author of the syndicated column "Ask a Mexican!" and respond to anything readers might want to Ask a Stoner.
Dear Stoner: Why is this column running instead of your usual Thursday 4:20 p.m. medical marijuana dispensary reviews? -- Dazed and Confused
Dear Dazed: Did you know that not only can it take up to 35 days for your medical marijuana card renewal to appear, but it can also take that long for a denial letter? I did, but that didn't make it any easier to find out my application had been returned to me due to a bit of, let's say, confusion over some of my paperwork.
Everything turned out to be fine, but I learned something else new about the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's medical marijuana registry: If you have to resubmit even the smallest part of your application, the CDPHE puts you at the very end of the line of applicants -- which means another 35-45 days in line for processing and approval, plus up to two weeks for printing and mailing. That's a grand total of about seventy to ninety days.
My point? As prepared as I could be for a delay in getting my renewed medical marijuana card, I've run out of reviews. And since I can't visit any shops with my paperwork, it might be a few weeks until the reviews return.
Thankfully, I'm fine on medical cannabis. But delays like this are bullshit for patients dependent on MMJ dispensaries for their meds. Being put to the back of the line sucks and should probably be fixed, even though I understand the logic. What makes absolutely no sense is why new patients are allowed to shop at dispensaries with just their paperwork while existing patients have to wait until their cards are approved. It was a dumb "clarification" a few years back by the CDPHE that made absolutely no sense at the time and still doesn't.
Dear Stoner: I'm not a medical patient. Can I buy marijuana in Colorado right now? -- Waiting to Inhale
Dear Waiting: Sure, you can buy it: Find a college kid, neighbor or just about anyone in Civic Center Park. Only thing is, it's not legal for them to sell pot to you -- nor will it be under Amendment 64. (Cue the Grateful Dead record scratching to a halt.)
To quote Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction: "See, it's legal, but it ain't 100 percent legal." Only licensed marijuana shops will be allowed to sell recreational pot in Colorado, and they won't be opening until January 2014 -- at the very earliest.
Civic Center Park.
Unlike the MMJ industry that sprang up around the state before there were regulations governing dispensaries, much less licenses required, all recreational shops will have to be licensed before they can open. In order for that to happen, the Colorado Legislature will have to create the licensing framework during the upcoming 2013 session. And even if lawmakers manage to do that, there will be other hurdles -- not the least of which is the fact that marijuana use, cultivation, sales and distribution are all still illegal under federal law.
Until all of this is sorted out, no matter how much you beg, the medical marijuana dispensary around the corner won't be selling to you unless you've got a valid medical marijuana card. But no doubt it would love your business if/when it makes the switch to a recreational pot shop in 2014.
Continue for more Ask a Stoner.