As a new resident in Colorado, I’ve been looking forward to the privilege of being able to purchase legal medical marijuana – but how? The cannabis industry structure is highly regulated, and state regulations can seem difficult to navigate. I’m doing the legwork and lucky for you, I’m sharing my research with the internet. The following is a simple guide to exactly what you’ll need to do to get your medical marijuana card.
Having your medical marijuana card is a great way to buy the same medicine – for less. As an official patient, you can avoid some of the taxes on your medicine, such as the recreational sales tax. For the price-conscious like myself, some dispensaries have a discount available to Colorado residents. It’s not mandatory, but there are certain deals that are unique to each shop.
One such cannabis haven is called Sacred Seed. The Denver dispensary was close to my location and well-reviewed on Leafly, the most visited cannabis directory in the world. So, I stopped in to price their products out.
Upon entering the dispensary, the woman behind the glass asked if I had a Colorado license because locals get a 10% discount. Some other shops in the state of Colorado may offer resident-exclusive discounts like Sacred Seed, but I’m told it’s not the norm.
Don’t have a license yet? The employees said that even a piece of mail will do, and the savings can add up.
I found out they also have a $5 discount as incentive for shoppers to leave a review on their Leafly profile. I’ll collect my discount at my next visit. Here’s my review:
After hearing about their resident incentive, I decided to hold off on any vape or dab pens – which can run upwards of $50 before taxes. Instead, I opted for the Cannabis Cup 2015 #1 edibles winner, Keef Cola Root Beer, as was suggested by my budtender Sara. I’ve had their cola before and my smoke-scorched throat enjoyed the break from lighting up flower. The soda was for sooner – the CBD dominant pre-roll and gram of Golden Goat I also bought were for later. Remember, deals and incentives differ dispensary to dispensary.
Now, back to how to get your medical marijuana card.
The first step is visiting the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). The quickest way to obtain a medical marijuana card is to get a Colorado driver’s license or ID prior to applying, according to the CDPHE. If need be, there are proof of residency waivers for first time applicants. This is a one-time allowance, and it’s upon request. Be aware that the processing associated with waving residency will add about two more weeks to your application processing time, which comes to about 5 – 7 weeks.
For a medical marijuana card, you’ll need:
- A complete application form
- A physician certification form completed by an MD or DO licensed to practice in Colorado
- A copy of your Colorado driver’s license or photo ID (or a Proof of Identity and Residency Waiver)
- A completed caregiver agreement (if applicable)
- A $15 check or money order (non-refundable application processing fee) made out to CDPHE (or a Fee Waiver Form)
From the website, you can see what documents you’ll need to gather. Make things easier on yourself and gather the necessary documents first, because you’ll have to submit them all together. A head’s up: You’ll need a driver’s license and a certified MD or DO fill out this physician certification (it’s really a recommendation, not an actually prescription). The simplest way to find a doctor is to ask any budtender, friend, or if all else fails, Google it. Then have your application filled out and send it all out to the state registry by certified mail or drop box.
Colorado is going digital in the new year. The CDPHE announced it will have online registration coming to the website in January. Until then, you’ll have to print the application and mail it in. Also new to the process, beginning this month, patient cards will have a new permanent patient identification number printed below their names. Here’s an example of what it looks like:
Remember to keep this mailing address handy for sending your application to processing:
Application Processing CDPHE HSV-8608
4300 Cherry Creek Dr. S
Denver, CO 80246-1530
The CDPHE warns that patients already enrolled should submit their renewal application at least 30 days prior to the card expiration date.
Meanwhile, tourists and non-medical cardholders can still buy fully-taxed cannabis. Legal recreational sales allow any tourist to peruse the shelves of any recreational-compliant dispensary. Some municipalities, like Lakewood and Centennial, have opted-out of the program and therefore have no dispensaries at all. Not to worry, there are other towns and cities – like Colorado Springs, Aurora and the city of Denver – that do partake in the green rush. Something to keep in mind when planning your trip to a 420-friendly town is dispensary closing times.
Colorado Legal Weed 101: The state allows marijuana stores to operate from 8am until midnight, but cities can choose operation times within that timeframe. Denver dispensaries close at 7pm MST. If you’re looking to purchase marijuana after 7pm, there are other options. You can head over to Edgewater and Glendale, which have stores that can stay open until 12am. Aurora also borders Denver and allows stores to stay open until 10pm.
Financially, it’s worth the effort. Pay the $15 fee (or apply for the fee waiver), allow 3 – 5 weeks for processing, and VOILA! You are now a legal medical marijuana patient in Colorado with hundreds of accessible cannabis dispensaries. Not sure what’s close and what’s on the menu? Apps like Leafly and Weedmaps are great to begin your search for the right dispensary for your needs. Updated regularly, it’s easy to see store-specific deals on concentrates, flower and edibles to decide which shop suits your needs.