Becoming a Patient in Colorado

Summary

Any patient with a valid registry card may legally use marijuana for medicinal purposes and their caregiver may assist them in doing so. A patient who is charged with a crime for having more medicine than the law allows may argue in court that possessing this extra medicine was medically necessary. 

Police are instructed not to harm or neglect any property related to medical marijuana (including plants). Any property seized must be returned as soon as the DA determines possession was for medical use.

What's Allowed

Patients (or their primary caregivers) can legally grow up to six marijuana plants, only three of which may be mature enough to bear usable marijuana, plus two ounces of marijuana in usable form.  No more than 12 total plans are allowed per residence regardless of the number or adults living there. Marijuana plants must be kept in an enclosed, locked area. If you violate these limits, they can keep you off the registry for one year.

Don't be dangerous (i.e., don't drive under the influence), and don't be obvious (i.e., don't smoke in public or flash your stash). That is still illegal.

If you violate their rules, they'll revoke your card for a year.

Qualifying Medical Conditions

Eligible conditions include: AIDS, HIV, cancer, glaucoma, Plus any of the following symptoms that are caused by a chronic or debilitating disease, or the treatment of such disease: cachexia (severe weight loss caused by a medical condition or its treatment), severe pain, severe nausea, seizures, or persistent muscle spasms. Your doctor must believe marijuana will relieve these symptoms. Colorado may add other conditions to this list.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has received petitions to add the following as “qualifying medical conditions” for which physicians may recommend medical marijuana. The below conditions were not approved to be included: Asthma, Atherosclerosis, Bi-polar Disease, Chron’s Disease, Diabietes Mellitus (types 1 and 2), Diabetic Retinopathy, Hepatitis C, Hypertension, Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA), Opioid Dependence, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Severe Anxiety and Clinical Depression, Tourette’s Syndrome.

Access

You can grow medical marijuana or have your caregiver grow it. Licensed medical marijuana centers are listed by the Colorado Department of Revenue Enforcement Division https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/enforcement/med-licensed-facilities.

Caregiver

A "Primary caregiver" must be at least eighteen years old, a Colorado resident, must not be the patient’s physician, must not have a primary caregiver of his/her own, must submit a Caregiver Acknowledgement form with the patient’s Application or Change, Replacement or Surrender Request form, and have significant responsibility for managing the well-being of a patient. For minors, a parent or legal guardian must be designated as the caregiver. The caregiver may legally grow, possess, and distribute marijuana for the patient. Caregivers are restricted to serving 5 patients, except in exceptional circumstances.

The caregiver's name and address will appear on the patient's registry ID.

Age Limits

A “minor applicant” is defined as a patient less than eighteen years of age. Minors may be legal medical marijuana patients as long as:

  1. They reside in Colorado and have a parent or legal guardian residing in Colorado;
  2. Their parent or legal guardian provides consent in writing to serve as the minor’s primary caregiver;
  3. They have parental consent from each parent residing in Colorado;
  4. Two physicians have concluded that the minor applicant has been diagnosed with a debilitation medical condition; and
  5. Documentation that one of the physicians referenced in #4 above has explained the possible risks and benefits of medical use of marijuana to the minor applicant and each of the minor applicant’s parents residing in Colorado. .

Application Process

To apply you must be:

  1. A Colorado resident with a valid Social Security number;
  2. Receiving treatment for a qualifying medical condition (see above); and
  3. Examined by a doctor with whom you have a bona fide physician-patient relationship.

You must submit:

  1. The Application provided at:

https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/medical-marijuana-forms

  1. A Physician Certification provided at:

https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/medical-marijuana-forms

  1. A copy of your Colorado driver’s license or photo ID (or a Proof of Identity and Residence Waiver)
  2. A $15 check or money order (as a non-refundable application processing fee) made out to CDPHE (or a Fee Waiver)

Minors should use the same form as adults and additionally include the Parental Consent Form and a second doctor's certification.

You do not need to have your application or other Registry forms notarized, except for the Parental Consent form.

Except for minor applications, if the department fails within 35 days of receipt of an application to issue a registry card or fails to issue a verbal or written notice of denial of an application, the patient’s applications for a card will be deemed to have been approved.

You need to update your registration and pay another $15 every year, with all documentation, even if it hasn't changed, including a new signed physicians statement. This should be in 30-60 days before your card expires.

If there has been a change in your address or caregiver, or if you need a replacement for a lost, stolen or damaged card, you must submit a completed Change, Replacement or Surrender Request along with a copy of your photo ID and a photo of the front and back of your damaged card to medical.marijuana@state.co.us. A replacement card will be delivered within 2-10 business days. You are allowed one replacement card for a lost or stolen card during your annual registration period. Additional requests will result in a $15 processing fee.

Keep copies of all of your paperwork.

Doctor

Colorado won't help you find a doctor. Doctors cannot be punished for discussing or recommending medical marijuana to their patients. The doctor who writes your recommendation must be licensed in Colorado and in good standing. Good standing means:

  1. The physician holds a doctor of medicine or doctor of osteopathic medicine degree from an accredited medical school;
  2. The physician holds a valid license to practice medicine in Colorado that does not contain a restriction or condition that prohibits the recommendation of medical marijuana or for a license issued prior to July 1, 2011, a valid, unrestricted and unconditioned; and
  3. The physician has a valid and unrestricted United States Department of Justice federal drug enforcement administration controlled substances registration

Confidentiality

The ID card will show your name, address, date of birth, social security number, and the Name and address of your caregiver. It should not list your medical condition. The registry is confidential. Police or government officials can only access the registry to check if you are a lawful patient. The Dept. will release your file to you with your written consent.

Housing

The law does not specifically address whether or not you can be evicted due to your status as a medical marijuana patient, even if you have only the amount of medical marijuana allowed by law. Also, it doesn't address whether you can live in subsidized housing, or whether you can grow, possess, and use marijuana in your house if it's within 1000 feet of a school.  However, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a memorandum stating that it prohibits medical marijuana users from the Public Housing and Housing Choice Voucher programs.  In addition, HUD issued a memorandum stating that each local housing authority has the discretion as to whether or not they will evict patients based on their use of medical marijuana.

Employment

The Colorado medical marijuana laws do not require an employer to accommodate medical use of marijuana in the workplace. It is not specified whether or not this regulation concerning accommodation pertains only to on-the-job medical marijuana use, or more generally, to the employment of medical marijuana patients. The law does not discuss the issue of employment-related drug testing.

Under Coats v. Dish Network, the Colorado Supreme Court upheld Dish Network’s termination of Brandon Coats, who tested positive for medical marijuana. The court ruled that Dish Network was within its rights to enforce its zero tolerance substance policy because marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

Insurance

Your insurance will not cover medical marijuana expenses.

Reciprocity

Colorado only recognizes its own state-issued medical marijuana ID cards. However, Arizona, Maine, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Michigan should recognize your Colorado card. However, each state provides limitations. If you do not have a Colorado medical marijuana ID, then you are not protected in Colorado.

For more info:

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's Medical Marijuana Registry:

Website: https://www.colorado.gov/cdphe/medicalmarijuana
Phone: (303) 692-2184 
Email: medical.marijuana@state.co.us

The application fee for a registration card is $15.

Sign up for electronic updates at: https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/sign-electronic-updates

Frequently asked questions: https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/medical-marijuana-frequently-asked-questions

Forms: https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/medical-marijuana-forms

If you have more specific questions, talk to a local attorney.