Jul 11, 2012 10:01 PM
TUCSON - After the passage of Prop 203 in November 2010 the countdown began for the arrival of medical marijuana dispensaries. The first are expected to be licensed on August 7th.
In the meantime, certified patients can acquire marijuana through care givers. Surprisingly, the process of becoming a caregiver is relatively simple.
According to the Laura Oxley of the Arizona Department of Health Services, care givers are simply chosen by a certified patient. The care giver is then registered through the ADHS and is allowed to sponsor up to 5 patients.
"They have to be over 18, and submit their fingerprints", Oxley said, "there are a few felonies that they could not have committed but otherwise it is pretty much a simple application".
Those are the only requirements and potential care givers do not need accredited medical background or experience. Once registered the care giver can grow up to five plants for each of their patients. As far as any payment is concerned, the State of Arizona allows the the patient to reimburse their care giver's expenses for growing and preparing their plants.
There are also care centers or collectives, where patient's plants may be grown and distributed to them. The laws regarding them are still murky as one collective recently discovered.
The Green Halo caregiver collective, or GHCC, was incorporated as Green Halo LLC on April 25, 2011 with the purpose of distributing medicinal marijuana to patients for free.
On Tuedsay, four people working at the facility, at 3359 N. Freeway, were arrested for unlawful possession of marijuana and unlawful possession of marijuana for sale. After a two month investigation, police determined the marijuana was not really free.
But according to Sgt. Chris Widmer of the Tucson Police, the marijuana GHCC was distributing had a catch.
"Actually what they were doing was giving marijuana away and then asking for a donation", Widmer said, "which pretty much equals a sale of marijuana."
The owner of GHCC, Ken Sobel, says nothing that they are doing is illegal, "people make donations because the Arizona medical marijuana act recognizes, there are costs associated with growing and distributing (marijuana) in a safe way", Sobel said. "Our purpose is to take care of patients, this is an important mission to us."