Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Caregivers Have to be ‘Designated’ by Qualified Patients

Your employees who do not have a debilitating medical condition but want to get involved in the medical marijuana field can do so either by becoming a Designated Caregiver (DC) or a Dispensary Agent, (DA), the two categories other than Qualified Patients (QP) who are protected by the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA).  For the moment, the only option available other than QP is DC, as the state and federal governments slog it out in federal court.

But your workers cannot just apply to be a DC, as the word “designated” in the title means that a DC has to be identified by and linked to a QP even to be entitled to apply to the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) for protected Cardholder status.

The rules and procedures adopted by ADHS enforce this linkage requirement, as even to begin to complete the online application, the ADHS requires input of  the QP’s 10-digit ID card number.

This may be one reason the number of ID cards issued by ADHS is now running close to 50 to 1, QP to DC, through June 9, 2011.  Because a QP has to have his or her card in hand to start the DC application process, the DC applications necessarily are lagging the QPs in time.

DCs are permitted to possess 2½ ounces of marijuana and 12 marijuana plants for each QP they are assisting.  DCs are allowed to assist up to five QPs.  A.R.S. § 36-2801(5)(d).

So do the math.  A DC assisting five QPs can possess a sizable quantity of medical marijuana – 12.5 ounces and 60 plants.  According to one online calculator, 12.5 ounces of high quality marijuana in Arizona has a street price of about $4,675.00.

Arizona employers face the very real prospect of having someone with this side activity – growing, harvesting, transporting, perhaps making edible products containing medical marijuana – in their workforce.  Future posts will discuss the policies employers will want to consider to deal with the issues presented by QPs and DCs in a lawful and nondiscriminatory way.

No comments: