CannaBiz: The peril of delayed processing 

Stems in the hourglass

During work as a painter in the early '90s, Robert Graham suffered an electrocution injury that left him with crippling migraines. "The guy I was working for at the time," Graham says, "I drove the truck right into the front of his shop [because] I had such a bad headache one morning."

Doctors eventually diagnosed Graham as suffering from five or six different kinds of migraines, and put him on a litany of drugs: Lithium, Neurontin, Zoloft, Cafergot, Ergotamine and more.

"There was like 20 different pills a day I was taking at the time," Graham says. "And they weren't helping the headaches: I was going from migraines into clusters. ... They make migraines look like a walk in the park. They're actually called 'suicide headaches' because people kill themselves."

Having experienced 200 to 300 cluster headaches a month, Graham eventually tried medical cannabis after seeing a brochure discussing it in his doctor's office. It brought the frequency of attacks down to three or four per month, and enabled the 60-year-old local to kill his pill regimen.

But his red card expired last year, so after saving his money to pay physician and registration fees, Graham mailed his renewal to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment on Feb. 16. The state allows 35 days for processing, and as his 35 days have ticked away, Graham's grown worried.

"[Center workers] told me they were four weeks behind," he says of the CDPHE. "Well, right now it's been about five weeks since I mailed mine in."

Spokesman Mark Salley confirms the state is behind. "Yes, today we are processing applications received Feb. 3," he writes in a March 20 e-mail. "The reason for the delay goes back to the about 4,400 applications that were held up after notification from law enforcement about potential fraud."

Of course, the state incurs no penalty for delayed processing. Only the patient suffers.

"To tell you the truth, I'll go pick it up off the street if I need it, and that's just the way I'll do it," Graham says. "But right now, I'm really almost just completely out [of cannabis]."

Pipe up to MMED

It's a quick turnaround, but the Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division is seeking industry feedback on its rules by Thursday, March 22.

"What do you feel are the top six rules that are cumbersome, inefficient, or difficult to understand or put into practice?" it asks. To participate, e-mail thoughts to jpost@dor.state.co.us.


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