As the state's medical marijuana community has blossomed and solidified, many different advocacy groups have taken root. There are pro-patient groups, industry trade groups and now, if all goes as planned, there will be a new, medical-themed organization - the Medical Marijuana Doctors Association.
"What we hope to do is bring doctors together who aren't just pushing evaluations out the door, but those who actually care about patient care," says Vincent Palazzotto, co-founder of the non-profit Medical Marijuana Assistance Program of the Rockies, who's been helping to get the MMDA off the ground. "You have a lot of doctors taking quite a bit of money from the industry, and we would like them to give back."
While there have been attempts in the past to unify medical marijuana health workers, Palazzotto says such efforts have failed because "a lot of these doctors are still in the closet. Even though they are recommending medical marijuana, they have not been willing to come out publicly about it."
And while health privacy laws prohibit the state from revealing these doctors' names, Palazzotto believes several recent developments are spurring medical marijuana doctors to finally take a stand, including new restrictions added to MMJ doctor-patient relationships courtesy of Senate Bill 109, and the recent state Board of Health decision to not allow PTSD as a viable MMJ condition, even though New Mexico recently decided to allow it.
A preliminary doctors meeting at Palazzotto's home last week drew eight medical marijuana doctors, a group that included outspoken MMJ physicians Paul Bregman and Alan Shackelford, as well as other doctors who so far have kept a low profile. As the group continues to meet monthly and grow its ranks, Palazzotto believes it will provide a much-needed new voice in the statewide industry.
"Right now, patient accessibility is being squeezed in very direction," says Palazzotto.
More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana's rejection by health dept. for PTSD treatment could lead to lawsuit for hearing." Follow Joel Warner on Twitter @joelmwarner
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.