Having just gone through the process of getting my "red card" in Colorado for the first time, I thought I'd clear the air on some common misconceptions about this magical card that let's you walk into a medical marijuana dispensary and get what you need to treat your ailments.
1) IT'S HARD TO TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT
Imagine sitting down in a doctor's office like the one pictured above... do you think you'd have a hard time talking to a doctor who proudly displays a big WeedMaps poster on the wall adjacent to where he hangs his medical credentials? When I went to get my doctor's recommendation, and was sitting in the room pictured above, I was greeted by an older fellow and two big dogs. Now, the dogs didn't say too much, but the older fellow (the doctor) was all for the legalization of medical marijuana and uses his practice strictly for the application for and renewal of the glorious red card.
And I have a feeling that, thanks to Amendment 20, there are many other doctors in Colorado who aim to give you a place where you can feel comfortable bringing up marijuana, as a possible treatment option, during your visit.
2) YOU HAVE TO BE ON YOUR DEATHBED TO GET A CARD
Sure, some of the qualifying debilitating medical conditions are things like cancer and HIV, but most people end up getting their red card because of issues with chronic pain. In fact, all you have to do is be thrown off a donkey while you're trying to play basketball and you're set! Yeah, that's right... My left elbow kissed the hardwood floor of my high school's basketball court at just the right amount of speed to cause Dr. Reimers, after inspecting both of my elbows over 13 years later, to label my elbow as shattered and gladly sign the paperwork needed, before sending me on my way.
So, if you have chronic pain or even muscle spasms or migraines, then don't hesitate to ask your doctor if marijuana is right for you.
3) YOU HAVE TO GO THROUGH A DIFFICULT PROCESS
If you can remember to bring your Colorado driver's license, some cash, and a money order then you're good to go. In fact, go ahead and forget to buy the money order, because my doctor's office will gladly print a money order for you, if you have an extra dollar. The only thing you really have to go through is filling out a few pages of paperwork, a little waiting, a little talking, a little finalizing, a trip to the Post Office, and then a little waiting by your mailbox. The place I went actually walks you through the process of filling out the state application, notarizes it for you for free, makes copies for you, helps you fill out your money order and then puts everything you need to mail in an addressed envelope, and sends you on your way with the proper certified mail documents.
So, it seems like the most difficult thing you have to go through to get your red card is being a patient patient.
4) IT'LL COST TOO MUCH
Can you spare $107.11? I mean, some people spend more than that on weed every week, and yet that's all it cost me to complete the process. I needed $65 in cash for the doctors visit, at least $1 to pay for the $35 money order and then $6.11 to mail everything out. $65 is the average amount you can expect to pay to get a recommendation from a doctor who focuses on medical marijuana recommendations, and you only pay these fees one time for a full year of medical-grade marijuana. In fact, in just a couple of days, you'll only need $15 put on that money order, because Colorado is lowering their fees.
And imagine how much you'll save by avoiding the stacked taxes that are going to be added onto all recreational marijuana purchases.
5) IT TAKES TOO LONG
I walked into Maggie's Farm (a local dispensary), within minutes of walking out of the Post Office. All you need is your Colorado's driver's license, your certified mail receipt, and copies of your physician form, your application form and your money order, and you can visit and purchase from any dispensary in the state, right after your doctors visit. And if your doctor's office is like mine, then they already provided you with not only a checklist for what you'll need to mail, keep copies of or bring with you to the dispensary, but they'll actually make the copies for you. Sure, you won't get your red card right away, but you're able to soothe what ails you as soon as you're done, and you can continue to do the same until your red card is mailed to you.
Yes, you'll have a short wait in your doctor's office and the Post Office, but you'll get to your favorite errand soon enough.
6) IT'S NOT WORTH IT
With recreational marijuana sales just over the horizon, I can see why some people might assume that there's no need to get or renew their red card, but due to the stacked, proposed taxes, you could end up paying 5 times as much in taxes alone, if you opt to buy from a recreational dispensary. And that's on top of the fact that, if you're a recreational user, you're limited to 100mg of active THC per package of edibles (10 mg of THC per serving max).
All those taxes and weak edibles make me think getting a red card is worth every penny and second spent, but let's not forget the fact that not all areas have OK'd recreational dispensaries in their boundaries and, as a medical user, you can have up to 2 ounces on you at a time. So, don't you think it's worth being able to go to any dispensary in Colorado you want to and walk out with some of the most potent edibles offered and a sack that's twice as fat, without having to be weighed down by taxes?
7) ONLY STONERS GET SOMETHING LIKE THAT
When I was waiting to be seen by the doctor, I was surrounded by men and women of all ages and backgrounds; it wasn't like we were sitting on bean bag chairs, while we clam baked the waiting room. Marijuana can help people from all walks of life, people who you would never assume enjoyed the benefits that marijuana offers them on a daily basis... from the grandparent who sat across from me to blogging Wookwoks like myself.
And I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one who has seen through the misconceptions that surround the Colorado red card, because in El Paso county alone (where I live) the medical marijuana registry topped out at its highest of 15, 591 members, as of September 30th of this year. But the path laid out in front of me is forked, and I have two options to choose from, to work toward my next goal. I can get hired to work in the marijuana industry and get badged after the fact, to save myself a few trips up to Denver, or I can get the support employee badge first and have more job opportunities come my way... stay tuned for the next Wookwok Wakening to see which path I chose to take.