A state audit last year found the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) at fault with lax regulation of physicians, unnecessarily high patient fees and a failure to oversee caregivers. The audit also charged the Department of Revenue with wasteful spending and incomplete enforcement, one of the first acts felt by the medical community in response to the audit may be a cap on the count of medical plants patient are allowed to grow.
CDPHE officials sent out letters on April 1 to doctors and medical marijuana patients, warning them the state will now require better documentation before it authorizes patients to grow more than the standard number of plants.
Any doctor recommending more than the standard six plants or two ounces must include additional information in the application packet. According to the letter this may include “…documentation of objective metrics of safety and efficacy. Examples include patient progress notes detailing dose related effects; lab results, and diagnostic testing results (e.g. EEG reports for patients with epilepsy). In addition, we will also be asking physicians to submit or reference published peer-reviewed studies supporting the medical necessity for recommended increased amounts for specified conditions.”
Medical marijuana advocates are concerned the impact of this may cause negative implications for medical patients who use the higher than recommended plant counts for use in edibles or concentrates.
“Patients have done nothing wrong here,” Teri Robnett, a medical-marijuana advocate and patient who is authorized to grow 24 plants, as reported by the Denver Post. “And yet patients will be the ones who suffer.”
Concerned patients, advocates and caregivers at a Town Hall Meeting hosted in the capitol building on March 28, were told Dr. Larry Wolk, the executive director of the state health department, “did not find evidence demonstrating the need for excess plant counts to produce specific tinctures, edibles and other cannabis products. This is not to say that there is not a need; however, no scientific evidence has been provided to date that demonstrates the medical need to possess more than the constitutional standard of six plants and two ounces.”
Many in attendance of the town hall meeting stood up to voice their concern, stating “not all plant strains produce the same quantities of marijuana, not all strains provide the same medicinal effects” and the state allotted standard plant count is “arbitrary and capricious.”
According to CDPHE data, there are 113,441 active medical marijuana patients on the registry. Of that number, Fifty-six percent of patients have designated a primary caregiver or medical marijuana center.
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