You won’t hear about limits to how many barley plants a brewer may grow, or how many cocoa leaves a pharmaceutical company may possess to manufacture pain killers, yet Colorado’s newly enacted regulatory scheme not only requires that medical marijuana businesses limit the number of plants according to the number of patients that they serve, we must also connect specific plants to specific people.
Aggravating the situation is a graduated fee schedule the State of Colorado has created for medical marijuana center licenses. This means the more patients who declare a medical marijuana center as their primary provider, the more the medical marijuana center has to pay in licensing fees.
This is troublesome in two major aspects.
1. The Department of Revenue Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division (MMED) and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) have still not provided a method to verify how many patients have declared an individual or business as their provider. Nor is there any method to discover whether a patient has changed to a different provider.
2. A medical marijuana center has no control over how many patients declare them as a primary provider. During the application process a patient may choose any provider they wish including themselves. The difference between the licenses is significant enough that a business may desire to stay below the 300 patient limit over which they would pay an additional $4000 in licensing fees, but their is no recourse to control the number of patients for whom they provide.
Not only does this result in record keeping headaches, it exposes current medical marijuana businesses to potential regulatory violations in that the state requires each plant be associated with specific patients, rather than taking an aggregate number the cultivation center must abide by.
Moreover, during the green rush many dispensaries offered steep discounts or free medicine for filling out a Change of Caregiver Form provided by the CDPHE. There remains no way to determine if a patient has filled out multiple forms just to receive such deals.
HB11-1043 has instituted a regulation that a patient may not change their provider more than once every 120 days. The fact remains however that while the state is requiring very strict record keeping when it comes to plants and patients, ambiguity in their processes make patient counts uncertain.
As the industry settles in to Colorado’s regulations, so are patients building loyalties with their favorite medical marijuana businesses. This has made it easier for Denver Relief to create a determinate list of patients that we are provider for because we have personal relationships with most of our patients.
Yet, at the moment, both the State and medical marijuana businesses are overloaded with the amount of documentation and reports that the regulatory scheme requires.
Frustration is building in response to requirements that are currently impossible to be in compliance with unless the State starts providing the industry with more efficient methods of reporting and patient counts that will allow medical marijuana centers to operate in line with regulations.
Whether or not the overwhelming burden requirements have put on medical marijuana business, the CDPHE, and the MMED will lead to a loosening of the documentation requirements remains to be seen.