In the face of 100,000-plus medical marijuana registry applications over the past year, the state's MMJ identification verification process slowed to an agonizing seven- or eight-month turnaround, triggering outcry from the marijuana community. Now, the health department says the backlog is gone and applicants are finally getting their cards within the 35-day timetable required by law.
"We are turning around medical marijuana registry applications within the 35-day window," reports Mark Salley, spokesman for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. "We are essentially caught up on the backlog."
That's quite an accomplishment, considering that as of this past July, the health department still had 73,000 applications stuffed into storage closets waiting to be processed. How'd the agency pull it off? Well, the 56 temporary employees the state hired over the past year to handle the processing surely helped, as did the health department's decision to outsource some of the work to Integrated Documents Solution (which is a branch of Colorado's Department of Personnel & Administration and not a private company, as some people have feared).
While there are still scattered reports of patients waiting more than 35 days for their license, Salley thinks those applications may be among those that were set aside or rejected because they accompanied recommendations from doctors with conditions or restrictions on their licenses. Thanks to patient protests, 1,300 of those apps have now been temporarily reinstated.
While there may be a few old applications still waiting to be processed, Salley is confident that that there will be no backlog left at all by December 31. Talk about joyous way to ring in the New Year.
More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana: Could most of Colorado Springs' MMJ biz be zoned out of existence?"
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.