State health officials are calling for a public rule-making committee this fall to iron out details involving the medical marijuana patient registry, including limiting the ability of caregivers to serve more than five patients. In a letter to the Colorado Board of Health earlier this month, Ron Hyman, director of the Medical Marijuana Registry, outlined areas that he says will require a rule-making hearing on September 16.
According to Hyman, new rules are needed because of SB 155, a bill passed this last session that requires the state to provide grant funding for medical marijuana “health effects studies.” Colorado must create guidelines for the grant program, he says, and establish a full-time Scientific Advisory Council to oversee the grants. That committee should be made up of a mix of pro-pot doctors, addiction specialists and general physicians, as well as a lone patient representative.
But in addition to outlining the grant program, Hyman proposes many other rule changes that aren’t related to SB 155. The biggest change would be limiting the maximum number of patients to ten that caregivers can serve with a waiver from the state. Currently, caregivers who want to help more than the allowed five patients have to apply for a waiver, and there are no limitations on how large that number can be. According to data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment, there were 4,702 caregivers as of May 1. The majority (99.3 percent) serve five patients or fewer; of the remaining .7 percent, 81 percent serve between six and ten patients. The remaining three were growing for twelve, twenty and seventy patients, respectively, which CDPHE officials claim can be a “public safety concern due to less structured oversight.” In short: They figure the caregivers are selling surplus herb out the back door. In addition, Hyman notes, most patients with caregivers are within fifteen miles of a dispensary and are often closer to a storefront than to their own caregiver.
Read on over at The Latest Word for more proposed changes.