Mon July 15, 2013
Medical Marijuana

Audit Questions Fees, Physician Oversight in Medical Marijuana Program

Physicians recommending medical marijuana to Colorado patients may not have adequate oversight when prescribing the drug.

That’s one of several findings in a 102-page performance audit released Monday on the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s process for issuing red cards, which gives individuals access to medical marijuana.

The audit found that 903 physicians had recommended medical marijuana for the 108,000 patients holding valid red cards in Colorado. But twelve doctors had recommended the drug for 50 percent of those patients, including one physician who had more than 8,400 patients on the Registry.

The report continues:

Some physicians have recommended what appear to be higher-than-reasonable amounts of medical marijuana. In one case, a physician recommended 501 plants for a patient. In another case, a physician recommended 75 ounces of useable marijuana for the patient.

The performance audit follows a scathing report of the Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division in March that called it “distressed and directionless.”

"In one case, a physician recommended 501 plants for a patient."

Monday’s audit of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment also highlights concerns that Public Health may have set its fees too high, resulting in a fund balance that far exceeds the program’s needs.

Delays in processing medical marijuana applications are another concern. The state is constitutionally required to issue red cards to patients in a 35-day time frame. While the state failed to meet this standard in 2012, the report says that by May 2013, 99 percent of applications were being processed in the 35-day time frame.

Recommendations in today’s report ask for improved oversight of physician recommendations and new methods to ensure that medical marijuana applications are processed in a timely manner.

The report includes nine recommendations overall.