Medical Marijuana: California Supreme Court Tightens Definition of "Caregiver," Ruling Will Push Patients Toward Co-ops and Dispensaries

In a narrow interpretation of the state's Compassionate Use Act, the California Supreme Court ruled Monday that people who supply medical marijuana to an approved patient can be prosecuted as drug traffickers if they don't meet the court's standards for caregivers. That standard must involve more than merely supplying medical marijuana to a qualifying patient, the court held.
California medical marijuana bags (courtesy Daniel Argo via Wikimedia)
Prior to Monday's ruling, marijuana growers who had been designated as caregivers by multiple patients had been able to win protection from prosecution under the Compassionate Use Act. Now, patients who relied on such growers to provide their medicine will have to turn to dispensaries that are organized as co-ops or collectives in accordance with California law.

The ruling came in the case of California v. Mentch. Roger Mentch was arrested in 2003 after a bank teller smelled marijuana on repeated cash deposits he made and police subsequently searched his home, where they found nearly 200 pot plants growing. Mentch told investigators he was the "primary caregiver" for five qualified patients, but at trial, the judge refused to let the jury consider whether he was a caregiver, and Mentch was convicted and sentenced to probation. An appeals court in San Jose overturned his conviction, saying jurors should have been allowed to decide whether he was indeed the patients' caregiver, but now the state's high court has disagreed.

"We hold that a defendant whose caregiving consisted principally of supplying marijuana and instructing on its use, and who otherwise only sporadically took some patients to medical appointments, cannot qualify as a primary caregiver under the Act and was not entitled to an instruction on the primary caregiver affirmative defense," wrote Justice Werdegar for the court. "We further conclude that nothing in the Legislature's subsequent 2003 Medical Marijuana Program (Health & Saf. Code, §11362.7 et seq.) alters this conclusion or offers any additional defense on this record."

The language of Proposition 215 defines a primary caregiver as "the individual designated by the [patient]... who has consistently assumed responsibility for the housing, health, or safety of that person." With this ruling, the state Supreme Court has defined that definition to "imply a caretaking relationship directed at the core survival needs of a seriously ill patient, not just one single pharmaceutical need."

Thus, for someone to be able to assert a caregiver defense to a marijuana cultivation or distribution charge, he "must prove at a minimum that he or she (1) consistently provided caregiving, (2) independent of any assistance in taking medical marijuana, (3) at or before the time he or she assumed responsibility for assisting with medical marijuana."

"Ideally, it won't have a tremendous effect," Joseph Elford, attorney for the medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access told the San Francisco Chronicle. "Patients will now increasingly get their medication through collectives and cooperatives."

The 2003 law establishing the dispensary system "provides an alternative outlet for patients," agreed Deputy Attorney General Michele Swanson, the state's lawyer.

But Mentch attorney Lawrence Gibbs told the Chronicle the court's decision "made it much, much more difficult" for qualified patients to get their medical marijuana. While the ruling may not have a significant impact on access to medical marijuana in areas where dispensaries are plentiful, large swathes of the state have no dispensaries. In those areas, patients will have to grow for themselves, have a spouse, domestic partner, or family member who can meet the court's definition grow it for them, travel long distances to areas where there are dispensaries, or resort to the black market.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!


If our Courts continue to deliberately subvert and deliberately refuse to implement the Will of the People, what can we do?

I wonder what the Founders of this Great Country would have to say about OUR Government's continued persecution of medical marijuana patients and their caregivers?

Lawgivers and our Government are the Terrorists

We have been terrorized by our own Government for a very long time. If Obama cannot get this country in shape, then a Revolution is close behind the likes of which we have never seen before. Maybe something like Bastille Day in France comes to mind? I am so tired of being in pain and some idiot thinking he knows what is best for me. Walk a mile in a mans shoes before he condemns another. Meaning if they lived with the pain we do, they would be the first in line, and would be legal. Humm, maybe they should feel the pain we do from day to day?

Ticked off US Citizen

caregiver reform ?

If not Bastille Day ,then a TaxRevolt ie.,[NoTaxation,NoRepresentation] after all ,enough is enough > WeThePeople hav the Rights to "benignly selfmedicate" ,regardless of 'state/fed' intervention ... that is all

the People outnumber "them" by the thousands

I like where your head's at DeathTwister! There's nothing more patriotic than standing up and clearly warning a government (and its "tools") that it is pursuing interests that are against those of the People which it is supposed to be OF, BY and FOR.

~fair warning~


Our beloved Country:

1. Tortures Perceived Enemies
2. Deprives People of Due Process
3. Imprisons People for undetermined length of time
4. Disseminates Blatant Propaganda and obfuscate VITAL MEDICAL INFORMATION (We pay for the DEA and the ONDCP to LIE!!)
5. Continues to try to take over Medicine and continues to prevent patients from being able to follow their doctors' recommendations.
6. Continues to squash and trample the Will of the Majority, for the Will of Industry and to appear "tough on crime."
7. Deprives Medical Marijuana Patients of medicine and medical treatment.
8. Has more people behind bars than China (excluding re-education camps)!!


That is a given, we are NOT supposed to be a democratic nation. We are a REPUBLIC! Our Founding Fathers hated "democracy" and had much to say on the subject -- "Democracy is two wolves and lamb voting on what's for dinner." "Democracy is where 51% of the people can vote away the rights of the other 49%." Etc., etc., etc.! It is just too bad our government controlled schools do not teach us the real history of our founding and the real meaning of the documents which are supposed to protect us from overbearing government.

Two other things

Two other things our Founding Fathers hated were central banks (the fed) and mercantilism, neither of those atrocities was ever supposed to be allowed to rear its ugly, criminal head in this nation, but now the nation is controlled by both of those two atrocities. Those two atrocities are the foundation of and reason for Prohibition 2.0! Do a bit of research on the central banks, mercantilism and the history of the WoD (individually and together), and you will see the truth of that claim.

Government schools

"It is just too bad our government controlled schools do not teach us the real history of our founding and the real meaning of the documents which are supposed to protect us from overbearing government."

All the more reason to separate school and state:


Yo pretentious, presumptuous prick, if you are going to pontificate with a history lesson, you should know what the Hell you're talking about.

The U.S. is a DEMOCRATIC Republic:

1. All of our political chief executives are chosen by the popular vote, as are all of our legislators and many of our judges.
2. We also have direct ballot initiative processes in about half of the states.

We are not a democracy in the Athenian sense, of course, but there's no particular reason to cede to the ancient Greeks the definition of "democracy". Our system was democratic even before it was a republic.
And there is much overlap between democracy and a republic.

Take a look at American colonial governance. It was representative in some parts, town meeting style in New England, and quite democratic.

And our republic doesn't look much like the Roman Republic, where class limitations applied to what offices one could hold.

We aren't a classical democracy, and we're not a classical republic. We're a democratic republic, or a republican democracy, and always have been. really. There aren't any historical precedents for what we've done here: we broke the mold.

But with the Bush-Clinton Dynasty, our representative or democratic Republic is moving toward an oligarchy.

Electoral College

To clarify, before the pretentious, presumptuous pricks pounce again, I do understand that the U.S. Prez is not chosen by popular vote. Here are a few examples where candidates lost the election, despite winning the popular vote:

* John Quincy Adams who lost by 44,804 votes to Andrew Jackson in 1824
* Rutherford B. Hayes who lost by 264,292 votes to Samuel J. Tilden in 1876
* Benjamin Harrison who lost by 95,713 votes to Grover Cleveland in 1888
* George W. Bush who lost by 543,816 votes to Al Gore in the 2000 election.

It's time to go

My despensiry was raided, the employees jailed. I call the owner my caretaker, the court says my opinion is wrong.

At 40 years old I'm at the point where I have watched folks like us get our ass-kicked by the elite for 20 years. Every time we gain a popular inch, they create a mile of legislation & regulation.

I have listened to the exact same talk ad nauseum, the comments on this page mirror those people were all fired up about in the 1980s... nothing changes except for the worst.

Love it or leave it?.. I have love for my brother / sister citizens who experience the same struggle as I, but there is nothing to love about what the GOP / DNC DC Mafia Govt has become. Their incompetence, stupidity, greed and criminal hypocrisy will be legendary.

"1. Tortures Perceived Enemies
2. Deprives People of Due Process
3. Imprisons People for undetermined length of time
4. Disseminates Blatant Propaganda and obfuscate VITAL MEDICAL INFORMATION (We pay for the DEA and the ONDCP to LIE!!)
5. Continues to try to take over Medicine and continues to prevent patients from being able to follow their doctors' recommendations.
6. Continues to squash and trample the Will of the Majority, for the Will of Industry and to appear "tough on crime."
7. Deprives Medical Marijuana Patients of medicine and medical treatment."

I'm relocating to a tropical paradise called Margarita Island off the coast of Venezuela. No surveillance cameras, no FEMA, no police state and if the clowns in DC don't like Chavez, he must be doing something right.



  LAPD SHOOTS INTO OCCUIPED HOME   my name is greg hernandez [email protected] live in reseda ca in the san fernando valley. (818)454-6675 yesterday detectives opened my front door and shot at my dog under the guise of squatters occupying my home - he has wounds on his left back paw-he is gentle and meek and the only friend ive ever had. im sending u my statement please help us ive been a papered cultivator providing meds to patients for almost 7 years. never once have i ever dispensed to a non-patient. never once have i ever accepted a donation larger than needed to cover what i had spent growing    I am a severely disabled cannabis patient here in LA and have had my dr. recommendation since 1998 when I was injured at work. when i could afford it i was also reg. w the county.  fri this week past in the am i was in bed w my dog, my son was also in my room when detectives from LAPD were at my door. the dog heard them first and jumped barking from the bed. fearing for my dog and after hearing the muffled shouts of the officer i immediately called to my dog to get him away from the door i also started yelling that i was a disabled person on a walker and that i was coming as fast as i can. my dog came back immediately but just as his head rounded the corner i heard a shot from the direction of the door. my son was behind me when i grabbed the dog and my son pushed him into the room. (15 minutes earlier my son had returned from the neighborhood coffee shop)   i came around the corner on my walker and was confronted by LAPD pointing a gun at me from behind a tree off the porch. he yelled at me "is there anyone in the house" i told him that me and my son were the only ones in the house and we were both coming out. when we were outside and after being searched i asked the officer if he shot into my house he nodded his head and said yes. when i asked him why he was here he stated that he had rec a rpt that our home was abandoned and that there were squatters inside.    although i had my rental agreement i was not allowed to present it or even enter my home as the the detective stated that he had 'to clear the house and make sure there there wasn't anyone else inside"i then informed him that under no circumstances did i give my permission for him to enter my home. he informed me that because shots were fired that there was going to be an investigation. at that point i informed him that i was a cannabis patient and that if they went in that it would complicate matters and again stated that no permission was given to enter my home i offered my dr recommendation and was again refused this time the detective stated that because he didnt know if there was anyone else inside he had called a tactical unit to clear the house. at this time a supervising officer arrived.   after talking to the 2 responding detectives he approached me and i was informed that because there were shots fired that they had to secure the house - no one was taking up positions the scene was very relaxed. again i informed the officer that i was a cannabis patient and that entry to my home was not authorized.   my dog was still inside my house and i started begging the officer to allow my son to go in and retrieve the dog. after a few minutes the officer told me that that they were going to enter my home and once cleared they would allow my son in to get my dog. after going inside they called my son in and he brought the dog outside and turned him over to animal control. the officer then turned to another officer and told him to tape of the yard as my home was declared a crime scene.   when the lapd entered my home my medical cannabis grow was observed there were 3 areas set up to grow but equipment set up in just 2. all the buckets were empty. there was a fourth area that was used for storage that contained 16-25  marijuana plants. semi-dry meds were found approx 12 oz and an unknown amt of wet marijuana that was just being clipped. a guess at its dried weight is approx one to one and half lbs dried. there was also a gun found but its legal and loaned by a friend that we can prove - a week prior our home had been robbed by someone who was hired to take over my sons job as my caregiver we filed a report its on record at the west valley pd (one of the officers on scean had taken the robbery rpt att my  home)   my son is employed by In Home Support Services Los Angeles county he is the individual designated by me to care for me and has consistently assumed responsibility for my housing health and safety. he takes care of me in my home so i dont have to go to a nursing home.i asked my son to care for me after i almost died from a celluitis infection 2 yrs ago it took my leg making it usless. i also have a complete seperation and bone on bone contact in L3 L4 and L5 that keeps me in consant pain im diabetic and have high blood pressure and have had 3 heart attacks in the last 5-6yrs. one thousand dollars were also found and was confiscated.   my son and i are not drug dealers with stacks of money laying arouned. i only recieve 850 a month in income my son is paid 247 a week. our rent here is 2200 a month. electricity to run the grow is like 500 a month plant food is another 400-500 a month and after replacing old for new equipment we have a payment to a local hydro shop of almost 1000 a month i havent spoken w him but im sure he will testify.   since the grow is at my house i get the very best of the harvest the surplus is despensed to the others who help me and most is donated to a dispensary to help other patients. my disabilities are harsh and the meds i need must be strong to allow me to at least have some life. with out being medicated i can bearly move. what money we have can be accounted for. ive recently sold a car that was very dear to me - it was a 1964 el camino i posted it on craigslist it was sold for 9.5gs-ive reposted it there and since CL keeps record of all its post it would be easy to ck if ive changed anything. i bought it after recieving a final settlement ck for my  back  3 yrs ago. in the robbery sited above 4000 was stolen the 1000 found was all that was left after paying some bills repairing my 2nd car an 89 sedan. i have the notice of transfer for the 64 and repair bills for the sedan.  ---------------- when i 1st heard the officer there was only soft tapping ive been here 2 yrs and i know how people sound when they are yelling from outside his voice was muffled and not distant but obstructed. the report of the gun was very  distinct and sharp as were his second yells they were very sharp and direct. when my son came in the front door from the coffee shop he closed the door and felt it latch. we were both very concerned that the person who had robbed us our things and money knew that we had given his name and description to the police and would come back.  theres no way my son would have left that door open. my door had been opened and pushed in when the officer fired his weapon into my home. im not an attorney but they used that shooting to come into my home lying about the door being open. i know my dog was in retreat if the injuries he has were from a gunshot my dog was struck from behind while in retreat. when we returned home other than confiscation of my meds almost nothing was disturbed. i also looked for evidence that a search for a spent round was conducted and there were no markings on the floors walls carpet...nothing i have always tried to follow the law and i try to believe that we live in a free country but this is so bad i offered all my proofs and i still went to jail. please help. i go to court on the 13 of april my son goes on the 11th we are both charged w position for sale i have 2 felony priors from almost 30 years ago. ill never plea bargain this one even if they drop to probation. this time i was obeying the law thank you Greg  [email protected] 454 6675

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <i> <blockquote> <p> <address> <pre> <h1> <h2> <h3> <h4> <h5> <h6> <br> <b>

More information about formatting options

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Drug War Issues

Criminal JusticeAsset Forfeiture, Collateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Court Rulings, Drug Courts, Due Process, Felony Disenfranchisement, Incarceration, Policing (2011 Drug War Killings, 2012 Drug War Killings, 2013 Drug War Killings, 2014 Drug War Killings, 2015 Drug War Killings, 2016 Drug War Killings, 2017 Drug War Killings, Arrests, Eradication, Informants, Interdiction, Lowest Priority Policies, Police Corruption, Police Raids, Profiling, Search and Seizure, SWAT/Paramilitarization, Task Forces, Undercover Work), Probation or Parole, Prosecution, Reentry/Rehabilitation, Sentencing (Alternatives to Incarceration, Clemency and Pardon, Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity, Death Penalty, Decriminalization, Defelonization, Drug Free Zones, Mandatory Minimums, Rockefeller Drug Laws, Sentencing Guidelines)CultureArt, Celebrities, Counter-Culture, Music, Poetry/Literature, Television, TheaterDrug UseParaphernalia, Vaping, ViolenceIntersecting IssuesCollateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Violence, Border, Budgets/Taxes/Economics, Business, Civil Rights, Driving, Economics, Education (College Aid), Employment, Environment, Families, Free Speech, Gun Policy, Human Rights, Immigration, Militarization, Money Laundering, Pregnancy, Privacy (Search and Seizure, Drug Testing), Race, Religion, Science, Sports, Women's IssuesMarijuana PolicyGateway Theory, Hemp, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Marijuana Industry, Medical MarijuanaMedicineMedical Marijuana, Science of Drugs, Under-treatment of PainPublic HealthAddiction, Addiction Treatment (Science of Drugs), Drug Education, Drug Prevention, Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction (Methadone & Other Opiate Maintenance, Needle Exchange, Overdose Prevention, Pill Testing, Safer Injection Sites)Source and Transit CountriesAndean Drug War, Coca, Hashish, Mexican Drug War, Opium ProductionSpecific DrugsAlcohol, Ayahuasca, Cocaine (Crack Cocaine), Ecstasy, Heroin, Ibogaine, ketamine, Khat, Kratom, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psilocybin / Magic Mushrooms, Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School