GRAND JUNCTION, Colorado " It's not always easy being green. Medical marijuana is legal in Colorado, but there's nowhere to get it on the Western Slope.
That leaves hundreds of people facing four-hour drives to a dispensary if they're too sick to grow their own plants.
Of the more than 5,000 medical marijuana users in Colorado, hundreds live in the Western Slope, said Brian Vicente of the advocacy group Sensible Colorado.
Vicente predicts more dispensaries will come to the Western Slope within the year.
"We just haven't seen the development of access out there like on the Front Range," Vicente told The (Grand Junction) Daily Sentinel.
Medical marijuana is recommended for some patients suffering from severe pain or illnesses like cancer and AIDS.
Colorado voters passed an amendment in 2000 allowing patients recommended by a doctor to possess less than 2 ounces of the drug or grow up to six marijuana plants. But Vicente says many patients are too sick to grow marijuana, so they have to travel to dispensaries.
Craig Jones, a Grand Junction chiropractor, told the newspaper he supports the idea of medical marijuana becoming more available to patients on the Western Slope. He said some users are so sick that travel to the Front Range is complicated or even dangerous.
"Marijuana is a safer alternative to a lot of prescription drugs," he said. "When someone gets high, they stay at home, relax and eat chocolate or play the guitar."
According to the state Health Department, patients who would benefit from medical marijuana must be recommended to the department by their doctor and pay an annual fee, but doctors do not prescribe medical marijuana.