A decade after Colorado passed a law allowing the legal use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, the city of Denver has so many dispensaries that a local alternative weekly newspaper recently advertised on one of its blogs for a "pot critic" to review the vendors. The paper, Westword, said it received more than 100 applications.

Under Colorado state law, someone who has a card showing a legal prescription can buy up to 2 ounces of marijuana a month — enough for a joint or two a day.

The official state website on the use of medical marijuana notes that among the primary approved conditions for which marijuana can be prescribed are severe pain, cancer, glaucoma and infection with or positive status for human immunodeficiency virus. According to the official rules and regulations document, folks who petitioned to have some other conditions — such as asthma, opioid dependency and hepatitis C — approved as legitimate reasons to use marijuana, on the other hand, were turned down.

An NPR story says the recent surge in the number of dispensaries was born when the U.S. Attorney General's Office said in 2009 "that it would not prosecute marijuana users if their state permits use of the drug for medical reasons." It noted that was a reversal of policy from George Bush's presidential administration.

The new pot critic, an anonymous freelancer who uses the name "William Breathes," told NPR that there are more than 300 marijuana dispensaries in Denver alone to serve the more than 100,000 Coloradans who hold the card showing a doctor has prescribed marijuana for one of the approved medical purposes. Breathes said that's more dispensaries than there are Starbucks in the city.

The Westword advertisement for the reviewer position said that "the perfect candidate will be a talented writer who's not about to play favorites — and, of course, someone who has a state medical marijuana ID (or the ability and need to obtain one)." It promised "meager" compensation, and the weekly's Joe Tone said the paper would not be paying for the product, either.

The reviews run in the weekly's Mile Highs and Lows blog.

More than a decade after medical marijuana was approved in Colorado, it is not without controversy, and legislation has not been static. Colorado HB1284 not long ago gave cities the right to ban the sale of medical marijuana. Grand Junction and Castle Rock are among communities that have taken that option.

Dispensaries aren't the only things that have sprung up around the medical marijuana issue. There are also various websites offering information, such as the quasi-official-looking ColoradoMedicalMarijuana.net.

Colorado statistics about the use or medical marijuana show that 144,000 new patient applications have been received in the decade since medical pot was legalized. Currently, the number who hold valid registry cards is 127,444, more than two-thirds of them male. The average age of all patients is 40; 42 are younger than 18.

The drug, according to the registry, is most often prescribed for severe pain.

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