Are Medical Marijuana Doctors in Southern Colorado Too Conservative? | Westword

Are Medical Marijuana Doctors Getting Conservative?

A father in the Colorado Springs area wants to help his son become a cannabis patient, but says doctors are too conservative.

Local News is Vital to Our Community

When you support our community-rooted newsroom, you enable all of us to be better informed, connected, and empowered during this important election year. Give now and help us raise $12,000 by June 7.

Support local journalism

Share this:
Dear Stoner: I have a nineteen-year-old son with disabilities, and he is looking to get a medical card, but the MMJ doctors down here in Colorado Springs are very conservative. Are they more liberal in Denver?
Concerned Parent

Dear Concerned Parent: I can't speak to how liberal doctors in Denver are compared to their peers in Colorado Springs, but I can tell you that getting a medical marijuana card is much harder for eighteen- to twenty-year-olds compared to the 21-and-up crowd. The Colorado Legislature passed a law in 2021 that requires more doctor screenings and secondary doctor approvals for medical marijuana applicants ages eighteen to twenty. Since then, the number of patients in that age bracket has declined by around 70 percent in Colorado.

Medical marijuana patient advocates have reported a sharp decline in doctors willing to write medicinal cannabis recommendations since the law took effect, especially in southern Colorado — although there are definitely still cannabis physicians in the Colorado Springs area, as the city only allows medical dispensaries, not recreational stores. The Denver area has more medical marijuana doctors, but if your son's conditions aren't recognized as one of Colorado's eleven debilitating or disabling conditions, then he might have to wait until he's old enough to be a recreational user.
click to enlarge Marijuana dispensary counter in Denver
Colorado's medical marijuana program has been steadily shrinking since 2012.
Scott Lentz
Colorado's network of medical marijuana doctors will probably be even smaller as the years go on and registered patients decrease. After an expected fall after recreational legalization in 2012, the number of registered marijuana patients held between 80,000 and 90,000 until late 2021. Since then, however, patient numbers have steadily declined, with under 65,000 as of March. By June 2024, registry officials estimate that only around 58,000 patients will be enrolled in the program.

Find out more about Colorado's designated medical marijuana from the state's Medical Marijuana Registry. And if you're still having trouble finding an open-minded doctor for your son, contact organizations that connect families with medical marijuana providers, like Colorado Cannabis Clinicians and Realm of Caring.

Send questions to [email protected].
Can you help us continue to share our stories? Since the beginning, Westword has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver — and we'd like to keep it that way. Our members allow us to continue offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food, and culture with no paywalls.