Chris Walsh: Rules Covering MMJ Caregivers Another Hit to Beleaugured Pot Industry

The Colorado cannabis community is up in arms again over yet another round of regulations. This time, the new rules target caregivers, or the individuals who provide medical marijuana to patients on a very limited scale.

As this Denver Post piece points out, the Colorado Board of Health approved a proposal to force caregivers – or those who serve no more than five individuals – to “do something extra, like help patients with shopping, cooking or getting to doctors’ appointments.” The purpose of the new regulations? Help police tell who is legit and who is using the title of caregiver as a smokescreen to sell weed.

In my career as a journalist, I have covered airlines, technology firms, the overall small business community and tourism. I also wrote stories about strip clubs, pornography and alcohol. Yet I have not seen anything like the regulations imposed on this industry.

I’ve previously highlighted the reasons that regulations can be good for the industry, backing the argument that they can help legitimize dispensaries, change public perceptions of medical marijuana and weed out the sketchy players. And I can see why police and lawmakers want to clarify the role of caregiver.

But I’m not so sure how this one will actually play out and whether it will achieve the intended results. It seems to me that someone who is pretending to be a caregiver could just as easily collude with a few “patients” to make it look like extra services are provided.

This won’t directly impact dispensaries. But it’s another example of the piecemeal approach states are taking to everything in this industry. Instead of a comprehensive set of laws on the books, politicians are constantly writing and revising the rules.

Just as frustrating, in this case, is the fact that the new laws come after a Colorado health department committee already agreed that caregivers just need to educate patients about medical marijuana and provide consulting services rather than, say, take patients shopping.

Will things every settle down in this industry? I wouldn’t count on it.

Chris Walsh is the editor of Medical Marijuana Business Daily