Medical marijuana patients who share a joint are breaking the law -- really

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For some MMJ patients, medicating with others is a chance to hang out and talk about what ails them with people going through similar problems. For others, it's a way to explore new strains they might not have tried on their own. But while this kind of socializing/sharing among patients is very common, it's also against the law.

You read that right. Passing a joint or handing a bowl to a fellow patient is technically illegal under Colorado's medical marijuana statutes, which clearly define what is considered legal distribution.

I was a guest on a recent edition of the John Doe Radio Show, a daily local Internet radio program focusing on cannabis news and activism, when the topic of patients giving other patients meds came up. At the time, I figured that passing a joint between two patients or kicking down a bowl to a friend in need was totally acceptable to do. After all, possession is protected for patients under the state constitution.

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Warren Edson
But apparently I was wrong. Marijuana attorney Warren Edson, who donates space in his office for the JDR show to record, stopped in and schooled my ass on the subject: "If this is a joint and I give it to you, I've distributed it," he said. "How is that legal? How is that exchange legal?"

For the record: I still fully endorse the communal element of cannabis. But according to Edson, Michigan's dispensary system was set up on a patient-to-patient sales model that its courts have since ruled is against the state's medical marijuana laws -- and its rules are very similar to ones in Colorado.

"People would point to Amendment 20 and the double-negative section," he explains, referring to text permitting patients to purchase and possess cannabis legally from people who consider themselves to be caregivers. But additional caregiver regulations have invalidated that argument, he says: "Unfortunately, the Michigan courts, examining essentially that exact same language, have held that patient-to-patient sales are crap."

In Denver, there's an additional city ordinance preventing redistribution, and centers have to put stickers on all packaging making it clear that the meds are only intended for the person who buys them.

"So, if I were a center owner and I distribute to you as a patient, that's legal," Edson explains. "But if you talk about going home and giving it to your wife -- even if she's a patient -- all of a sudden we're in that head-shop 'bong' world.'" As he points out, head shops that sell bongs often prohibit that word to be uttered there under the theory that the term implies illegal use.

Mark Salley, spokesman for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, confirms that patient-to-patient sales are technically illegal, since neither patient is a caregiver for the other. But the CDPHE isn't out looking for patients who are sharing joints, he notes.

"Upon receipt of complaint information of this nature, the department would evaluate that info to determine if any action could be taken regarding the patient's MMR ID card," he says. "But we probably wouldn't ever even hear about it to begin with."

Mum's the word.

More from our Marijuana archive: "Marijuana: Title board signs off on Relief for the Possession of Cannabis Act, latest pot measure."

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46 comments
Guest
Guest

Passing a joint is not considered distribution, only possession under C.R.S. 18-18-406 -- if and only if -- no money changes hands: 

(5) Transferring or dispensing not more  than one ounce of marihuana from one person to another for no consideration shall be deemed possession and not dispensing or sale thereof

Medical marijuana patients are permitted to possess marijuana. Logically it follows that medical marijuana patients could pass a joint between each other.

*** This is not legal advice. Do not rely on it as such. ***

Matt in Boulder
Matt in Boulder

Apparently Warren Edson hasn't read C.R.S. 18-18-406.  Case in point to the fact that he's a fraud...

Pete
Pete

But I always rely on WestWord blogs for legal advise!

JoJo
JoJo

I wouldn't trust Edson to represent me for a jaywalking ticket.

Mike
Mike

Edson also thinks its illegal to sell anything that was produced from your home. He kept repeating that lie when he was pushing for 1284 and after it passed. He's a tool.

Jojo
Jojo

Yea I heard him spouting that crap on Facebook too, guess he thinks Michael Dell should be in jail for starting Dell computers out of his garage. He is completely anti-caregiver/anti-patient and pro MMC, because obviously that's where the money is.

Bpsycle
Bpsycle

Can someone please arrest Musical Youth for telling me to "pass the dutchie to the left hand side?" Their irie vibes are going to have me right, or "left," in jail.

LarryQ5
LarryQ5

If you exhale, isn't that distributing?

uuberdude
uuberdude

In Michigan distribution is included in the definition of medical use, which patients can engage in per the act, along with some other defined activities, to include transport, transfer, and cultivation. The State is nonetheless hostile. there are bills in the legislature to turn the law over and make it useless, the Attorney General is on a rabid jihad, and law enforcement is still having way too much fun screwing us.

Many of us consider that our law is clear enough and that there are no gray areas. We have taken ownership (as you might find to your benefit), have a vast portion of the electorate behind us, and a real healthy activist network chugging along.

Good luck

jonrocket
jonrocket

If it's truly illegal, then the myriad dispensaries selling "gift baskets" for patients to give to other patients (presumably) would be mega-illegal. I've seen these all over, especially during the recently (puff, puff) passed holidays. 

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

That's not the only illegal thing that many dispensaries are doing ...

Rev. B Baker
Rev. B Baker

your all wrong Look to business law definitions if your not making a profit it isnt sales, and if he gives it back [as mmj is ruled personal tangible property see AG legal opinion memo 06-09 (2009)] YOU LENDED it to him and didn't even give it to him.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

When you comprehend the difference between "sales" and "distribution", get back to us.

Hopefully before you end up in a jail cell.

Jake Browne
Jake Browne

Warren is using the Michigan ruling as precedent. That holds more weight than other interpretations currently.

Monkey
Monkey

Distribution includes lending, selling or gifting something to someone. Distribution is the topic, sharing a joint. Did your buddy lend you $100 the same time you were nice enough to lend them some bud? A judge of jury might not agree with you.

rsteeb
rsteeb

There are some laws that deserve to be repudiated.  Get freakin' real. Does ANYone "technically" concern them self about it?

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Ask Chris "living the dream" Bartkowicz or Pierre "Doctor Reefer" Werner  ...

William Breathes
William Breathes

For the record: I'm still totally okay with passing joints around and kicking friends down a bowl here and there.

Reality Check
Reality Check

Warren should call the MMED tip hotline on you!

Rev. B Baker
Rev. B Baker

i would suggest having me legally research legal opinions and not look to the ones profiting off of prohibition and fear from it for the facts, only a legal opinion LOL

Guest
Guest

These Attorney's blow smoke out their ass's !

Noyoucant
Noyoucant

Warren thinks everything is illegal. 

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

The social aspects of cannabis consumption are some of it's most profound and noticed expression in man.  Cannabis is an herb whose effects are greatly enhanced when used with others, and should often only be used in social settings.  Anxiety, depression, and other less clinical social inhibitions can all be reduced within the social cannabis setting.  Cannabis can enhance social interaction as well leading to more creativity like with music or snowboarding.  So let's get together and burn one down....

Monkey
Monkey

Nice! So you can have your caregiver give you some weed, light it up, but you can't hand it back to them for a toke, that would be a patient distributing to a caregiver huh. I guess you could set the bowl down on the table and let someone else pick it up but you can't hand it to them. Great example of silly rules, I didn't get this from my friend, I found it on his coffee table. My real comment was just illustrated while typing from Robert, last time I checked, distribution is in the Constitution allowing both caregivers and patients that right.

Jake Browne
Jake Browne

Caregivers don't have a right to consume medicine. Only patients who happen to be caregivers, as well. This is confusing, given that the CDPHE has a list of where caregivers aren't permitted to consume.

Michelle LaMay
Michelle LaMay

The right in Article XVIII is to possess cannabis for the patient and for the patient to extend their right to possess to a caregiver. There is no mention of consumption, or ingestion in any MJ law, even DUI is for impairment, not consumption. Michelle LaMay, Proponent #1303-886-7998http://www.relief4possession.w...relief4possession@groups.facebook.com

jonrocket
jonrocket

Since I've made CDS my caregiver, does that mean I couldn't share a joint with you, jake? That makes me sad, you seem like a nice guy.

Jake Browne
Jake Browne

Yep. Ridiculous. 

Welcome to CDS, btw! Glad to hear one of our patients getting involved.

Rev. B Baker
Rev. B Baker

not true the lazy ass state just copied and pasted the rights and limits for caregivers from the patients section,thereby granting the caregiver the same rights as an individual patient without the dr note, just id and a patient to name you LOLJ. A primary care-giver shall not:1. Engage in the medical use of marijuana in a way that endangers the health and well-being of a person;2. Engage in the medical use of marijuana in plain view of or in a placeopen to the general public;3. Undertake any task while under the influence of medical marijuana, when doing so would constitute negligence or professional malpractice;4. Possess medical marijuana or otherwise engage in the use of medical marijuana in or on the grounds of a school or in a school bus;5. Engage in the use of medical marijuana while:a. In a correctional facility or a community corrections facility;b. Subject to a sentence to incarceration; orc. In a vehicle, aircraft, or motorboat;6. Operate, navigate, or be in actual physical control of any vehicle, aircraft, or motorboat while under the influence of medical marijuana; or7. Provide medical marijuana if the patient does not have a debilitating medical condition as diagnosed by the person's physician in the course of a bona fide physician-patient relationship and for which the physician has recommended the use of medical marijuana.K. A primary care-giver may charge a patient no more than the cost of cultivating or purchasing the medical marijuana, and may also charge for care-giver services. Such care-giver charges shall be appropriate for the care-giver services rendered and reflect market rates for similar care-giver services and not costs associated with procuring the marijuana.

Monkey
Monkey

I know, it's getting ridiculous, I think they try to confuse people. It's to the point now you have to transform from a caregiver to a patient living in Colorado or Denver depending on who is attacking you, all in the same moment.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

Wrong -- neither patients nor caregivers are bound by the unconstitutional provisions of SB10-109, HB10-1284, or HB11-1043, nor the unconstitutional regulations adopted thereunder.Article XVIII, Section 14 (2) (d) states:  "no person, including a patient or primary care-giver, shall be entitled to the protection of this section for his or her acquisition, possession, manufacture, production, use, sale, distribution, dispensing, or transportation of marijuana for any use other than medical use" -- this is the double-negative section, and it confers protection on patients and caregivers for all of the enumerated acts, not just upon patients who "purchase and possess cannabis legally from people who consider themselves to be caregivers".  Moreover, (2) (b) provides that patients and caregivers may "engage or assist in the medical use of marijuana".  Patients who pass a joint are acting in the character of caregivers to assist in its medical use, distribution, and dispensing -- that is how it is legal.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Another LEGAL FAIL on your part.

You left out the salient initial 4 words, quite deceptively -- "NOTWITHSTANDING the foregoing PROVISIONS, no person shall ..."

That is a DISCLAIMATORY section, it confers NOTHING and in fact LIMITS and RESTRICTS the scope and coverage of the referenced PROVISIONS of Amendment 20.

If it ain't in the PROVISIONS of the Amendment, it isn't conferred.

Stop spewing legal nonsense ... you know there are too many clueless stoners who are ignorant enough to believe such idiocy, and like Chris Bartkowicz and Pierre Werner, end up in prison for naively marching to the irresponsible pied-pipers of the pro-pot parade.

Bob Randall
Bob Randall

Actually a law professor of 35 years said it is a derivative protection implied in 2(d). So unless your actually a lawyer you may want to run your opinions by an actual attorney. Btw Warren was also wrong on his legal interpretation of the Beinor appellate court ruling. So the law and case law for that matter is always open to legal interpretation. But if your analysis was accurate there wouldn't have been MMJ sales for a decade in Colorado in a hostile law enforcement environment none the less, with all the MMJ lawyers including Warren running dispensary puppy mills for profit. What is going on is the MMJ attorneys have gotten together and prefer large clients and have since gone back on their legal advice to clients for years and are endorsing the HB1284 model over A20 and they wish to utilize that model to implement their quasi legalization model for 2012. If what you and Warren are saying is true any one who votes for initiative 30 will be setting themselves up for arrest.

News Wire
News Wire

"a law professor of 35 years" ?

LOL!

Name them so we can verify this 'derivative protection implied" or expose you as a fraud.

Monkey
Monkey

Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions means: Even though what I just said is true, this other thing is also independently true. Or, in spite of previous provisions, this statement is also true.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

You failed English comprehension, didn't you?

Monkey
Monkey

You forgot "for any use other than medical use". So... according to you, Patients and caregivers can distribute weed despite what A20 allows, only non-medical use limitations to the provisions are listed. Good night, maybe I'll argue more tomorrow. 

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Poor Monkey, fried his simian brain on MMJ.

... "DESPITE the PROVISIONS (i.e. what A20 allows), NO PERSON SHALL (insert the LIMITATIONS to the PROVISIONS HERE!)..."

HTH.

Monkey
Monkey

I really feel stupid spending time on you, especially when you think "notwithstanding" means to remove from the provisions. Maybe you will understand this: Regardless and in addition to the previous provisions, no patients or caregivers can do anything with weed unless it's for medical reasons. Because I'm such a nice person, I'll paste the definition of the word giving you trouble.NOTWITHSTANDING:without being prevented by (something) : despite — used to say that something happens or is true even though there is something that might prevent it from happening or being true ▪ Notwithstanding their youth and inexperience, the team won the championship. — often used after its object ▪ The law was passed, our objections notwithstanding. [=the law was passed despite our objections]

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Nope -- the construct of legislation is Title, Abstract, Definitions, PROVISIONS, Disclaimers (limitations and exclusions to the provisions).

If it ain't in the PROVISIONS, it ain't provided for.

"NOTWITHSTANDING the above provisions (allowances), NO PERSON SHALL do xx, yy, zz"

Guest
Guest

So puff puff pass is now puff puff get your own?

Kathleen Chippi
Kathleen Chippi

unless it's MEDICAL.

The real question is: How did we end up with SHITTY, GREY, language that can be argued in 20 plus different interpretations?  (The Colorado Court of Appeals agreed on ONE thing in the Beinor-V-ICAO ruling---3 of 3 judges agreed that A20 language SUCKS. 

We let OUT OF STATE interests (the same now promoting the fraudulent "like alcohol" BS) come into our state and WE THE PEOPLE did NOT READ the god damn language--all VOTERS HEARD (excluding the 20 or so of us who met with the authors in 1997 to correct these HUGE problems with the language only for the authors to refuse) was:

 "do you want sick people to be able to have pot?"  Well of course they wanted sick people to have relief and they voted yes on shit language. 

12 years later Warren Edson, the attorney who publicly lied on record over and over that he had authored A20, is telling us it's LEGAL to get pot from an MMC--an unconstitutional entity--and NOT FROM a PATIENT or CAREGIVER?  My God, Warren, first you wrote the language, went along with caregivers and patients while they made you money for 10 years and then take a dump all over them for your new high paying clients who are being attacked by the FEDS.  PLEASE STOP.  This is sick. 

And I hope voters realize that the current like alcohol initiative has even MORE FLAWS than A20. 

The title board agrees with Mason and Brian that I30 does NOT LEGALIZE ANYTHING and the title board told them they could not have the "like alcohol" phrase in the title as it would be too confusing to the voters--because when we hear the "do you want to legalize marijuana like alcohol?" the average voter does not realize that the ONLY thing "like alcohol" is the age of 21.  The tax and regulate thing works for every commodity.

This has no many problems, but I will mention a few:

Since alcohol is LEGAL in state and federal law, most will assume they are in the clear for marijuana in the SAME LEGAL SENSE as alcohol and here it will be NOTHING like it. 

We can all buy and transport as much alcohol as we want.  Not true with this language for mmj.--BUT it sure helps when you collect signatures.

You won't lose your drivers license, you house, your kids, your job just for consuming alcohol--you could for marijuana if this passes. 

I asked Mason and Brian to market truthfully on the title board record.  They have not ONCE in the media corrected the MIS INTERPRETATIONS of their ballot title or what passage will accomplish. 

In the Jan 6 Peter Boyles radio show Mason TVERT told Boyles that it would be regulated much like the medical marijuana program--after all we all know mmj is "flourishing" and good according to Mason--after years of Mason bragging he had nothing to do with mmj nor did he contribute to anything mmj--he might need some of you to give him an update---NOBODY IS HAPPY with what the MMJ program turned into after in the last 2 years. 

But honosty--THIS was the first time I heard Mason tell the truth.  Whats so funny is when Mr. Donahue and myself asked the title board to put "regulate like medical marijuana" into their title--because that is what their language resembles--for the simple FACT that NO other commodity is limited to purchase by quantity---Mason and Brian said it was not like MMJ. 

Warren Edson Lies
Warren Edson Lies

I think it's illegal for a lawyer to advise his clients to break federal law. When is Warren going to own up to the fact that he has put a lot of clients at risk by advising them to go along with the General Assembly's marijuana distribution scheme? How many dispensaries actually have state licenses now? I honestly haven't seen a single one, although a dozen or so are rumored to exist. And will those few that have licenses really be protected? Doubtful, as all the provisions of HB1284 apply to "licensed" MMCs. Since they arent' licensed and they aren't a caregiver, what legal authority do they have to sell weed, Mr. Edson?

Warren is a profiteering lawyer who doesn't know shit about the law.  If he did, he certainly wouldn't have tried to take credit for writing A20 for over 10 years until WW finally exposed his lies:http://blogs.westword.com/late...

Am. 20 is the most poorly-written piece of legislation in the Constitution. So why lie and say you wrote it? Because you are psychopathetic, I guess.

Reality Check
Reality Check

initiative 30 or the "regulate marijuana like alcohol" is the most poorly written proposed amendment to date. Now Warren was involved with that too, see a pattern? NORML and all the other national groups are using coloradans personal freedom as a petri dish to push their own criminal defense attorney agendas.

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