Every day, we are asked about whether a patient can have more than one primary caregiver and/or whether the patient or primary caregiver can share those rights with another primary caregiver.
In response, please be advised that there is no current legal support for that arrangement. While it does take place, that fact alone does not afford any legal protection.
Specifically, under Amendment 20(18), a patient has three rights.
(1) to possess 2 ounces of medical marijuana;
(2) to cultivate 6 medical marijuana plants; and
(3) if the patient does not want to grow, he/she can appoint one other person to cultivate medical marijuana on their behalf.
This person is deemed a Primary Caregiver and is assigned the right to cultivate and possess medical marijuana by their patient(s). Per Section 14(1)(f), the definition of “primary caregiver” is limited to “a person.”
Legal interpretation, also referred to as the statutory construction, requires that we look first to the words in the Amendment itself and then use the most common definitions of the words used. Applying these legal principals, the Amendment uses the word “primary,” which refers to a single, original person.
The use of the term “caregiver” is singular and the plural “caregivers” is not used and cannot be implied. Finally, the phrase “a person” is singular and does not include “people.”
We understand that the Amendment limiting patients to one primary caregiver poses many logistical difficulties in administration of a Primary Caregivers business. However, it must be remembered that medical marijuana is a fledgling legal concept and a novel business entity.
The tragedy is that the law will mostly be decided in the context of criminal prosecution of patients, primary caregivers, doctors and others. As such, it is imperative to remain within the narrow parameters of Amendment 18(20)’s protections.