Thousands of Colorado marijuana applications on hold
December 9, 2011
DENVER – Some 4,200 medical marijuana applications in Colorado are on hold at the state health department while investigators look at possible fraud.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced Friday that marijuana registry applications from certain physicians are on hold after law enforcement officials witnessed potential patients being seen by someone other than a physician. Colorado law requires a “bona fide” doctor-patient relationship before a physician can recommend marijuana pot for certain ailments.
The health department did not say which doctors were under investigation, or how law enforcement came to find out about the possible fraud. The agency said only that certain physicians would be contacted to confirm they examined would-be patients and signed their recommendations.
State lawmakers tightened physician requirements for medical marijuana cards in 2010 after concerns about possible fraud. Colorado now requires that a physician perform a personal physical examination of a would-be patient, keep records of the visit and offer follow-up care.
The health department said Friday that the applicants on hold will receive an answer by the end of January.
The head of the department, Dr. Chris Urbina, acknowledged in a statement Friday that some patients have seen lengthy delays. But he said the review is necessary to make sure all the pending recommendations meet medical muster.
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“The investigation was necessary to maintain the integrity of the Medical Marijuana Registry,” Urbina’s statement said.
Urbina went on, “The exposure of this fraud should lead marijuana registry applicants to take care to ensure that they are seen and examined by a physician if they intend to apply to the medical marijuana registry.”