Short-Term MMJ Cards Will Expand Access to Medical Marijuana in Colorado
Governor Jared Polis, a vocal cannabis advocate who campaigned on supporting the marijuana industry, has made big changes to cannabis regulations in Colorado since he was sworn in back in January.
In May, Polis signed several cannabis bills into law: autism spectrum disorder was added to the state’s list of qualifying MMJ conditions, cannabis delivery to private residences was given the green light, and tokers will finally have a place for social consumption in hospitality establishments.
Polis also signed a bill that will allow doctors to prescribe cannabis instead of opioids for acute medical conditions, as well as allowing more medical professionals to prescribe medical marijuana. So, for instance, if you have your wisdom teeth removed, your dentists could recommend medical cannabis instead of addictive opioid pain medication.
“Adding a condition for which a physician could recommend medical marijuana instead of an opioid is a safer pain management tool that will be useful for both our doctors and patients,” said Ashley Weber, executive director of Colorado NORML.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) has been resistant to adding new medical conditions to the MMJ program, but the new law circumvents the CDPHE board. The board met on July 17 for an emergency rulemaking session ahead of the law’s implementation. One of the rules up for debate was whether short-term medical marijuana cards should be valid for 30 or 60 days.
According to Westword, at least one board member thought sixty days for a short-term MMJ card was too long, especially in cases where an opioid would only be prescribed for seven days. Anna Weaver-Hayes, who testified at the meeting on behalf of the Colorado Psychiatric Society and Children’s Hospital Colorado, also recommended a shorter prescription window of thirty days.
Cannabis Clinicians Colorado director Martha Montemayor argued for a sixty-day short-term MMJ prescription, explaining that patients on the Western Slope often have to apply for their cards by mail and that “By the time they get their approval back in the mail, more than half of their recommendation could be done already,” she said. “We can’t forget those people.”
The board unanimously voted to approve a sixty-day minimum for short-term MMJ cards. Final rules will be decided by the board in September.