Cost may be biggest hurdle to red card
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Critics of Colorado’s medical marijuana program say it’s a fraud starting with the application process to get a red card, which allows a person to buy and use marijuana.

Is getting on the state’s Medical Marijuana Registry as easy as everyone says? The Gazette decided to see what the process involves.

Applying for a red card was a little more involved than buying cold medicine containing pseudoephedrine, but not much. The requirement of a doctor’s examination and approval, for example, was as simple as having a quick cup of coffee with a stranger.

It took $95 and 46 minutes — maybe five of those with the doctor — to get a recommendation to use medical marijuana. No stethoscope, no blood pressure reading, no checking of the pulse.

Making an appointment was easy: Google “how to get a red card in Colorado Springs” to find local clinics, sign up online and you’ll get a phone call and a text within minutes to confirm an appointment.

Don’t have any medical records? Shouldn’t be a problem. Applicants need only bring an ID, a $15 money order for the state application fee and $80 cash to cover the appointment and notary services. All application paperwork is on-site.

The waiting room in one Colorado Springs MMJ clinic was packed with men and women, from 20-somethings to senior citizens, on a recent afternoon. One man worried he wouldn’t qualify but was quickly assured he should see the doctor to be sure. Office staff members were polite, professional and efficient.

Upon arrival, patients were asked for a driver’s license, which was photocopied and returned, and given a clipboard with a sheet from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment titled “Medical Marijuana Registry — Application for Registration Card.” Instructions: Fill out lines 1 through 12 only, which consists of the usual personal data — name, address, date of birth. “Line 8 says County, Not Country,” each person was instructed. “Please put El Paso.”

Two other sheets required signatures, one detailing health privacy laws.

Our diagnosis after explaining our symptoms: severe pain. Advice: Try eating a very small amount of an edibles cookie before bed. With that, the physician paperwork was signed.

Next step: Hand over $80. A packet was put together with everything necessary for a red card, including a notarized copy of the application, a driver’s license copy, the $15 money order and the physician certification sheet, and placed in an addressed envelope to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Final instructions: Send the envelope certified mail and keep the receipt. Apparently some dispensaries accept the receipt and a copy of the paperwork as a temporary red card.

The number of people on the Medical Marijuana Registry has jumped in El Paso and Teller counties:

* First year after federal memorandum

Source: Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

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