Dept. of health to let lawmakers, courts define ‘caregiver’ for marijuana distribution

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is leaving clarification of the “significant provider” clauses of the medical marijuana constitutional amendment up to the state’s court system and the General Assembly.

The department recently had to rescind a ruling that defined the responsibility a caregiver has for a medical marijuana patient, after its language conflicted with the language in a state Court of Appeals ruling.

The ruling, in People v. Clendenin, said that a person who supplies medical marijuana to a patient would have to do more to meet the legal definition of “caregiver.”

The act of supplying marijuana for medical use, by itself, is insufficient to constitute significant management responsibility the court ruling said. The department’s rules had allowed providing medical marijuana as a significant responsibility that would meet the definition.

“Our ruling had the permissive ‘or’ in it,” said spokesman Mark Salley, health department communications director. “So it allowed a caregiver to do all the things or only one of the things – and one of those things was providing medical marijuana.”

The emergency meeting to repeal the language yesterday was the second time the department had to backtrack in its efforts to regulate medical marijuana. Earlier this year, they tried to limit the number of patients to whom a caregiver can supply the drug.

“I think it’s fair to say they are going to leave it to the General Assembly or the courts to provide clarity to the amendment,” Salley said. “And some of the senators have already suggested they will be introducing laws in the next session.”