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Medical Marijuana: Colorado Judge Blocks Restrictions on Caregivers

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #608)

A judge in Denver Tuesday overturned a state Board of Health decision last week that medical marijuana caregivers must do more than simply provide marijuana to qualify as caregivers. Denver District Judge Larry Naves voided the decision, saying the board had violated state open meeting laws and ignored the needs of patients.

Colorado medical marijuana certificate (courtesy
The board held an emergency meeting last week with less than one day's notice to respond to a state Court of Appeals ruling that a woman who provided marijuana to a registered patient did not qualify as a caregiver under the law. That move outraged medical marijuana supporters, who immediately filed suit to block the move.

Attorney Richard Corry filed the lawsuit. He argued that the board failed to provide adequate public notice of the meeting and that the Court of Appeals ruling applied only to the criminal case in question. Naves agreed.

Naves was harshly critical of the Board of Health and let first assistant attorney general Anne Holton, who was representing the board, know it. "Did this board ever think about the impact on the health of people like these people here?" he asked, referring to a medical marijuana user and provider in the courtroom who had challenged the new requirements.

Holton replied that the board was merely trying to clarify restrictions for providers, and that the action was only temporary while the board came up with permanent standards.

"It's not temporary if you're trying to down 30 pills," Naves retorted, referring to testimony by a patient in an older, related case who said he couldn't keep his numerous medications down without marijuana.

Holton said she did not know if the Board of Health would appeal the decision. It has a December 15 hearing scheduled on the issue.

The dispute comes as medical marijuana is taking off in Colorado. The state now has more than 11,000 registered patients, and this year, dozens of dispensaries have sprung up, first in Denver, but now across the state.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


undrgrndgirl (not verified)

should be the same as that used in the wider medical field:

"The primary role of caregiving is to provide individuals with help in completing everyday tasks or errands. Caregiving involves performing house cleaning duties, going grocery shopping, making sure bills are paid, cooking, administering medicine, providing help with personal care and assisting an individual with getting dressed. The overall goal is to improve the quality of life of the elderly, sick or disabled." (from the medicare website)

...that said, those who "just" provide medical cannabis should be seen as "pharmacists" or over the counter medicine outlets (like longs, cvs, walmart, etc) (who also incidentally, deliver medicine to patients) rather than caregivers...

yes it's a semantic argument, but i think it is important for the medical cannabis field to follow the "rules" of "western medicine" to enhance the legitimacy of the movement...


Fri, 11/13/2009 - 1:14pm Permalink
duskydon2 (not verified)

In reply to by undrgrndgirl (not verified)

Some caregivers give only medications; Some only pills, some only salves, some only eye drops. Why wouldn't a person growing cannabis for a patient be a caregiver? If the person who only empties the cat box is a caregiver, then the person who prepares the cannabis is.

Wed, 11/18/2009 - 2:35am Permalink
Chetskies2 (not verified)

re: undrgrndgirl,

Nice job of cut and paste.

I live in Oregon where we have designated growers and caregivers. I help out at least 10 patients on a monthly basis from my garden. Six of them do not drive, and two are in wheel chairs (quad's) If I did not have the help from each of the patients having someone they know act as their caregiver, I would not be able to keep providing meds for them. I cannot afford the time or the resources to travel around the city to each patient. As I mentioned, most of my patients don't drive, but that does not mean that they aren't self sufficient in their day to day lives. Also, my patients caregivers help out with the med's in many different ways. Several will make tinctures and medible's, others will help with vape pipes and other medical delivery devices. Sometimes it's just to be there with them for awhile. There are also those patients that need the full blown care of a licensed caregiver, who also doubles as a mmj caregiver. But why should the ones that don't need full care have to pay for someone with the skills you suggest, just to help them with their medical marijuana needs? If Oregon did what you suggest, it would have a very negative impact on our program...can't imagine it being any different where you are.

Fri, 11/13/2009 - 2:31pm Permalink
Robert Chase (not verified)

Denver District Judge Larry J. Naves repudiated the illegal, so-called "emergency" hearing before the Board of Health held one week prior. Judge Naves ruled specifically that the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) violated his order of 2007 that it comply with Sunshine Law and give proper notice to all patients of meetings of the Board of Health at which changes to the regulations concerning the medicinal cannabis patient registry are considered; he also stated explicitly that the CDPHE violated the Law. He restored the definition of "significant responsibility for managing the well-being of a patient" -- under the law (as it stands now), a caregiver need do no more than provide medicinal cannabis to patients. Governor Ritter bears primary responsibility for violating the Sunshine law guaranteeing open meetings and for doggedly fighting the will of the People, using the CDPHE as his cat's paw and working hand-in-hand with Attorney General John Suthers. I blame Ritter for wasting my time by requiring me to stand up against his behind-the-scenes maneuvering. He has also wasted a fair amount of taxpayer money on this shameful and unproductive exercise. Unless Governor Ritter acknowledges the will of the People of Colorado as embodied in our Constitution that medicinal cannabis is legal for those whose doctors have recommended it, I (a lifelong Democrat) will not support his reelection. Our movement is not a tightly organized one, but we do represent a significant number of votes that Gov. Ritter needs if he is to be reelected. All we have had from the Governor is the same disdain of anything related to cannabis affected my most of our political establishment, the only difference being that the Governor feels no need to address the issue directly, but misspends State resources to resist what has been the supreme law of Colorado for almost a decade.

Fri, 11/13/2009 - 4:53pm Permalink

Seen what's been going on here in SoCal? The LA and San Diego DA's are doing everything in their power to harass dispensaries, caregivers, and patients, and are being abetted by the Obama Justice Department -- to the everlasting shame of them all, I might add. They always leave themselves plenty of wiggle room, even when they feign being conciliatory. After the Attorney General announced (in March, for crying out loud) the Obama Administration's newfound regard for the 9th and 10th Amendments, and their decision to leave medical marijuana to the states except when asked for their help, they've certainly been giving local cops a lot of help.

California's own Attorney General, former Governor Jerry Brown, is good on the issue, and is trying to keep the cops at bay. But all the local constabulary has to do is find some silly paperwork error or administrative gray area and boom! -- the DEA and who knows what other federal acronyms come to town and join the militarized SWAT teams to tear up dispensaries, people's lives, and the Constitution, too. To a lifelong Democrat, as to a lifelong Republican, I would say, "This is the bullying, invasive monster of a government your parties have built over the last 100 years or so." My mother followed my lead, and registered and began voting Libertarian in the early 1990s, in her 70s. At the very least, we don't have to abet the accretion of power into fewer and more distant hands. Perhaps we may even reverse the slide, or slow it. But even if we don't, we sleep well at night knowing we refuse to be part of it. And good for you folks, too, fighting the good fight. Never stop.

Sat, 11/14/2009 - 12:00am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

If our rights have been violated then what is being done about it? If I break the law I am persecuted if the government breaks the law (well) we still go to jail, whats being done about it? We are the people are we not? We are the people who vote the Law makers into office and are we also not the people who can vote them out if they don't follow our will? Why hasn't or isn't this happening?

Sat, 11/14/2009 - 2:42pm Permalink

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