Op-Ed: New regulations coming into effect on January 1 will restrict access to medical marijuana

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Martha Montemayor, director of Cannabis Clinicians Colorado, submitted the following in an editorial:

An open letter to Attorney General Phil Weiser and Governor Jared Polis:

We ask for your help in delaying the implementation of Bill 21-1317. regarding the regulation of marijuana for safe consumption until the serious legal issues with the bill are resolved by the courts.

The bill was enacted on June 24, 2021. On July 1, 2021, Benjamin Wann, a medical marijuana patient, sued the state of Colorado, challenging 25 significant violations of the Colorado state constitution , the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and Colorado Revised Statutes as HB21-1317 presents. A few months later, Drs Sharon Montes and David Gray joined the prosecution as plaintiffs, as HB 1317 will force them to violate all of the above as well as the Colorado Medical Practice Act, State and federal controlled substances law, their Colorado medical licenses, and their DEA licenses in order to continue caring for their patients. On August 3, the plaintiffs filed a preliminary injunction petition with the courts asking that the implementation of HB 1317 be delayed until the court has ruled on the constitutionality of the law. Unfortunately, no decision has yet been rendered.

We ask the Governor to advise the Attorney General’s office to ask the court to grant the plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction in Wann v. Polis et.al. so that legal issues can be resolved before the law is applied.

During the Colorado Board of Health emergency rule development hearing for HB 1317 on December 15, Board of Health chairwoman Patricia Hammond acknowledged the conflict between the new legislation and the Medical Practices Act and called expressed strong reluctance to implement the new rules. During the hearing, board member Raymond Estacio said: “I cannot think of any diagnosis or condition for which I would need a second opinion to treat my patient.” Laura Lasater added that demanding past medical records for everyone is a matter of social justice, as poor people who want to try medical marijuana will be excluded. “If you’re sixty years old without health insurance and can’t remember the name of the doctor who diagnosed your arthritis eight years ago, medical marijuana is out of reach now,” she said. .

Worried about the negative effect the new rules will have on patients, Hammond urged members of the Board of Health to be uncomfortable with the making of the rules and the doctors who care for patients with marijuana for purposes medical professionals to contact the courts and / or legislators as soon as possible. That is why I am writing to you today.

Here are some of the many possible direct harms for patients, physicians and the public that were raised by stakeholders at the meeting if HB 1317 goes into effect on January 1, 2022:

1. Doctors specializing in medical marijuana will be deprived of their right to diagnose their own patients. The new law states that patients must have a previous doctor’s records to see a doctor who specializes in medical marijuana. the Medical Practice Act currently determines a provider’s right to diagnose by their type of license, not by a treatment they may recommend. As of January 1, only patients wealthy enough to have a well-documented medical history will be able to use marijuana for medical purposes. Patients who couldn’t afford regular care, don’t have health insurance, lack computer skills, or can’t remember the name of the doctor they saw five years ago will now have to pay for a second doctor visit for a diagnosis, in addition to the medical marijuana evaluation.

2. Doctors will be forced to violate five different laws by writing a prescription instead of a recommendation. The difference between a recommendation and a prescription is the issuance instructions, and the new supplier certification mandated by HB 1317 includes the full list of the AED issuance instructions. Therefore, from January 1, doctors dealing with medical marijuana will have to violate section 12-36-117 of the Medical Practices Act, State Constitution, Controlled Substances Act of Colorado, their Colorado medical license and their federal DEA license in writing prescriptions for an AED. Controlled substance in Schedule I. If medical marijuana physicians stop seeing patients to avoid breaking medical practice law, up to 88,000 patients could lose access to care over the next year.

3. HB 1317 requires physicians to give patients all the information someone needs to call a fraudulent prescription at a pharmacy. Paper prescriptions for all other medications are taken by the pharmacy when they are filled. The new law requires the patient to carry a printed and signed copy of the provider’s certification for a full year.

In addition to the damage listed above, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), which operates the Colorado Medical Marijuana Registry, said during the emergency rule-making hearing that the Medical Marijuana Registry ( MMR) did not have sufficient revenue to implement HB. 1317 to Jan. 1, 2022. MMR is also pursuing an extension of appropriations provided for in the bill that allow system upgrades and hiring.

If HB 1317 treatment is continued without delay, approximately 7,000 medical marijuana patients with an extended herbal count and approximately 3,500 patients between the ages of 18 and 20 will immediately need new documents from their doctor. January 1, 2022, in order to continue receiving their medication. If the CDPHE does not have the means to apply the bill on January 1, what happens to these patients?

Again, we ask the Attorney General’s office to ask the court to grant the plaintiff’s preliminary injunction in Wann v. Polis and. Al. So that legal questions can be decided before the law is applied.

Martha Montemayor CNC
Director, Cannabis Clinicians Colorado

Westword.com frequently publishes opinion pieces and essays on topics of interest to the community; the opinions expressed in these plays are those of the authors, not Westword. Do you have one that you would like to submit? Send it to [email protected], where you can also comment on this letter.


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