Oct 122010
Authors: Hannah Cornish

State officials reminded medical marijuana dispensaries last week to abide by a state law that requires new patients to wait 35 days before buying marijuana.

Dispensaries have little followed the law since its passage in 2000, but a position statement from the senior director of the Colorado Department of Revenue’s medical marijuana enforcement group,
Matt Cook, reminded dispensaries that, if they fail to adhere to the law they could be fined, have their license revoked or suspended or face other sanctions.

The waiting period, ideally, is to give authorities time to approve or deny someone who is seeking medical marijuana card benefits. But Steven Eckermen, who owns the dispensary Organic Alternatives and is also an MMJ cardholder, said the system is backed up and patients are often having to wait much longer than just the required 35-day period.

Two years ago, when Eckermen first applied, he was able to receive his card within the 35-day period, but when he went to renew it this year he had to wait 9 months.

It’s an unrealistic expectation, Eckermen said, for applicants to expect a 35-day turnaround from the Department of Revenue and also for the patient to wait an extended period of time to utilize his or her prescription.

“Could you imagine if you had to wait for 35 days for Vicodin if you broke your arm?” Eckermen said.

Nonetheless, Eckermen said he wouldn’t be willing to risk his good standing with law enforcement or the state to serve patients who have yet to be officially approved.

“It’s a problem, and as much as we dislike to we have to follow it,” Eckermen said, adding that he still stands by his belief that “if you need medicine, you need medicine.”

As far as what to expect for medicinal marijuana policies in the future, Cook said that he had a network of individuals, including people from both sides of the issue, putting together a game plan for future laws and regulations.

“I drafted the first 90 pages and more are to come for several years. The legislature will commence in January and you will see new legislation,” he added.

Staff writer Hannah Cornish can be reached at news@collegian.com.

Medical Marijuana Regulation Facts

  • 35-day wait between receiving prescription and card approval
  • Policy implemented to state Constitution in 2000
  • Policy drafted and upheld by Colorado Department of Revenue
  • Dispensaries will face fines, license suspension or revocation if they violate this policy
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