Lots of confusion surrounds Colorado Medical Marijuana laws.
All levels of government, from local to federal, are all considering legislation pertaining to Medical Marijuana Laws.
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There are numerous questions that have arisen surrounding interpretation of statutory language. The law does not clearly state where marijuana plants may be grown, how many patients one caregiver may care for, or if two or more patients and/or caregivers may share one growing space. Statutory language also places certain burdens upon local and state law enforcement officers, such as the requirement of keeping alive plants that are confiscated until a resolution is reached (i.e. a decision not to prosecute, the dismissal of charges, or an acquittal). However, selling or distributing marijuana remains illegal.
This confusion regarding Colorado’s approach to dispensing collectives and cooperatives may leave the door open for their possible establishment. It is up to the medical marijuana patients in Colorado to decide whether or not to pursue this avenue of obtaining medicine. Americans for Safe access strongly recommends that any patients who are interested in forming a dispensing collective or cooperative consult an attorney before doing so.
Primary Care Giver – Should you Worry?
“Primary care-giver” means a person, other than the patient and the patient’s physician, who is eighteen years of age or older and has significant responsibility for managing the well-being of a patient who has a debilitating medical condition. If a patient so chooses, they may choose to select one primary caregiver, who may legally grow, posses, and distribute to the patient marijuana as is medically necessary.
There is no restriction to the number of patients which one primary caregiver may serve, as long as the caregiver:
1. Is 18+ years of age; and
2. Has significant responsibility managing the well-being of a patient.
To become a primary caregiver, a patient may either:
1. Name the primary caregiver on their registry application, OR
2. Inform the state registry in writing of their primary caregiver at any time as long as they have a valid registry card.
The caregiver’s name and address will appear on the patient’s registry ID.
The Colorado medical marijuana law does not addresses whether or not a qualified patient can be evicted because of their status as a medical marijuana patient, even if that patient has the amount of medical marijuana allowed by law. Therefore, it is up to each patient to decide whether or not to tell his/her landlord about their status as a medical marijuana patient.
Additionally, nothing in Colorado’s medical marijuana law specifically addresses whether or not a person can be a registered patient and live in subsidized housing. However, under federal law, HUD has clear regulations prohibiting ANY marijuana use in federally subsidized housing. If a patient has questions about these important issues, Americans for Safe Access recommends that the patient speak to an attorney to learn about their rights and protections.
Medical Marijuana Laws – How close to Schools?
Colorado medical marijuana law also does not address the issue of whether or not patients who live within 1000 feet of a school, AKA a “drug free zone” can still grow and/or possess medical marijuana.
The Colorado medical marijuana law:
1. Does not require any employer to accommodate the medical use of marijuana in any work place. It is not specified whether or not this regulation concerning accommodation pertains only to on-the-job medical marijuana use, or more generally, to the employment of any individual who engages in the medical use of marijuana;
2. Does not discuss the issue of employment-related drug testing.
Colorado Residents: Colorado currently has no reciprocity agreements with other states to honor Colorado’s medical marijuana law. This includes even those states that currently have medical marijuana laws of their own.
However, in Montana, medical marijuana patients from other states who are valid medical marijuana patients under that state’s law are protected under Section 4(8) of the Montana Medical Marijuana Act [Sec. 50-46-201(8), MCA]. A registry identification card or its equivalent issued by another state government to permit the medical use of marijuana by a qualifying patient or to permit a person to assist with a qualifying patient’s medical use of marijuana has the same force and effect as a registry identification card issued by the Department of Public Health and Human Services in Montana. Therefore, medical marijuana patients from Colorado should be protected in Montana under Montana state law. See the Montana Patients Guide for details on the protections and limitations that Montana state law affords medical marijuana patients.
Additionally, in Rhode Island, The Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act (MMA) protects patients and primary caregivers from outside Rhode Island who have a state issued medical marijuana ID card, or its equivalent. The MMA states, â€œA registry identification card, or its equivalent, issued under the laws of another state, U.S. territory, or the District of Columbia to permit the medical use of marijuana by a qualifying patient, or to permit a person to assist with a qualifying patient’s medical use of marijuana, shall have the same force and effect as a registry identification card issued by the department.â€ Therefore, medical marijuana patients from the other medical marijuana states that have state issued cards should be protected in the state of Rhode Island. See the Rhode Island Patients Guide for more information.
In states with no medical marijuana program, marijuana use, regardless of a doctor’s recommendation, is illegal. You may be arrested and charged with civil or criminal offenses in those states.
Law Enforcement of Medical Marijuana Laws
Authorized employees of state or local law enforcement agencies shall be granted access to the information contained within the Department’s registry only for the purpose of verifying that an individual who has presented a registry identification card to a state or local law enforcement official is lawfully in possession of such card. The Department shall report to authorized state or local law enforcement officials whether a patient’s registry identification card has been suspended because the patient no longer has a debilitating medical condition.
Additionally employees of state or local law enforcement agencies are directed to immediately notify the department when any person in possession of a registry identification card has been determined by a court of law to have willfully violated the provisions set forth in the Colorado medical marijuana law, or has pled guilty to such offense.
Any property interest that is possessed, owned, or used in connection with the medical use of marijuana or acts incidental to such use, will not be harmed, neglected, injured, or destroyed while in the possession of state or local law enforcement officials where such property has been seized in connection with the claimed medical use of marijuana. Under Colorado’s medical marijuana law, any such property interest will also not be forfeited under any provision of state law providing for the forfeiture of property other than as a sentence imposed after conviction of a criminal offense or entry of a plea of guilty to such offense.
Marijuana and paraphernalia seized by state or local law enforcement officials from a patient or primary caregiver in connection with the claimed medical use of marijuana shall be returned immediately upon the determination of the district attorney or his or her designee that the patient or primary caregiver is entitled to the protection contained in this section as may be evidenced, for example, by a decision not to prosecute, the dismissal of charges, or acquittal.
Any officer or employee or agent of the department who violates this regulation by releasing or making public confidential information in the registry shall be subject to any existing statutory penalties for a breach of confidentiality of the registry.
Confidentiality in Medical Marijuana Laws
The confidentiality of medical marijuana patients in the State of Colorado is protected by law and by the procedures used by the registry. No lists of patients or doctors are given out to anyone. Law enforcement may only call to verify the information on a specific identification card. The Registry database resides on a stand-alone computer and is password protected. The office and all files are locked at night and when the Registry administrator is out of the office.
The department may release information concerning a specific patient to that patient with the written authorization of such patient.
Insurance and Medical Marijuana Laws
Under Colorado state law, no governmental, private, or any other health insurance provider shall be liable for any claim for reimbursement for the medical use of marijuana.