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CO MMJ Registry Program Update


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In the November 2000 general election, Coloradoans passed Amendment 20, and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) was tasked with implementing and administering the Medical Marijuana Registry program. In March of 2001, the State of Colorado Board of Health approved the Rules and Regulations pertaining to the administration of the program, and on June 1st, 2001, the Registry began accepting and processing applications for Registry Identification cards.

Statistics of the registry include:

* 2185 new patient applications have been received to date since the registry began operating in June 2001. Eleven (11) applications have been denied, 8 cards have been revoked, 70 patients have died, and 554 cards have expired, bringing the total number of patients who currently possess valid Registry ID cards to 1542. The renewal rate is 56%.
* Seventy-two percent of approved applicants are male.
* The average age is 43, and patients range in age from 18-90 years old.
* Fifty-one counties (80% of counties) in Colorado have registered applicants. Forty-four percent of patients reside in the Denver-metro and Boulder area, with the remainder of patients found in counties throughout Colorado.
* Patients on the Registry represent all the debilitating conditions covered under Amendment 20. Severe pain accounts for 83% of all reported conditions; with muscle spasms the second-most reported condition at 28%.
* Fifty-eight percent of patients have designated a primary caregiver (someone who has significant responsibility for managing the patient's care and who may help administer medical marijuana).

Please see the tables below for a complete listing of all statistical information.

As of June 14, 2004 caregivers are no longer issued cards.

The Amendment requires that an application be approved or denied within 35 days of receipt by CDPHE. Currently, the Registry is issuing ID cards within ten to fifteen days of receipt of a complete application.

In addition to administering the Registry, CDPHE has been charged with accepting and reviewing petitions to add conditions to the current list of debilitating medical conditions/symptoms. To date, four petitions have been received, one for Parkinson's disease, one for Asthma, one for Anxiety, and another for Bi-Polar Disorder. All petitions were subsequently denied due to lack of scientific evidence that treatment with marijuana might have a beneficial effect.

There have been two marijuana-related convictions of patients on the Registry, and no physicians have experienced federal reprisals. However, reluctance to participate due to the inconsistencies between state and federal marijuana laws has been expressed by doctors and patients alike.

Another barrier to participation on the Registry may be the cost. No general funds have been designated for this program, and the Amendment allows CDPHE to collect fees to cover the administrative costs of administering the program. Currently the fee is $90, and is evaluated annually by CDPHE. The fee was lowered from $110 on June 1, 2007.

There are numerous questions that have arisen surrounding interpretation of statutory language. The law does not clearly state where marijuana plants may be grown or if two or more patients and/or caregivers may share one growing space. Statutory language also places certain burdens upon local and state law enforcement officers, such as the requirement of keeping alive plants that are confiscated until a resolution is reached (i.e. a decision not to prosecute, the dismissal of charges, or an acquittal).
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