Earlier this afternoon (20 January, 2010) Colorado’s legislature budget committee approved an extra $186,702 to enable the state health department process the enormous volume of medical marijuana card applications that have poured into its offices.
The cash, which is actually less than requested, is needed to pay a dozen temporary employees to deal with the ever-lengthening backlog of applications. We estimate that at the current rate of work, new applicants can expect to wait up to 5 months before receiving an approval.
The extra allocation is in addition to $139,000 already requested by the department for the processing of the estimated 5,000 new applications a month. The funds will come from the $90 registration fee so the cost to the state is neutral.
The official estimate an extra 30,000 card carriers in less than a year and predict a final state registry of around 60,000 medical marijuana users.
In separate news, a bill was introduced today that will require physicians to have a closer relationship with medical marijuana users within their care. Legislation will likely be heard within the next two weeks.
In its current form the bill would require doctors recommending marijuana to have clean licenses, keep detailed records and prohibit doctors from receiving compensation from dispensaries for making recommendations.
It would also require any pot-seeking patient younger than 21 to go before a medical review board unless they are a veteran.