Grow, Gift, Repair

Plan to raise the ratio of patients medical marijuana caregivers can support sparks debate

Updated regulations around access to medical marijuana caregivers emerged last week as a point of contention among some in the cannabis community, with a patient advocacy group and individual patients disagreeing over the right approach.

During a public hearing on Aug. 3, officials from the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance opposed the Cannabis Control Commission’s proposal to allow caregivers to support up to 10 medical marijuana patients each — to the disappointment of some individual patients.

Grant Ellis, a patient who said he relies on caregivers, said the CCC’s plan to up the patient to caregiver ratio to 10:1 and to let caregivers grow up to 500 square feet of marijuana in some situations is a “threat to only one group of people, that being the existing brick and mortar dispensaries who do not want patients to have at-cost access to medical cannabis.”

On Aug. 3, officials from the MPAA said caregivers — essentially people registered with the CCC to care for and provide cannabis to medical marijuana patients — should be allowed to support more than one patient, but not 10.

“An arbitrary number of patients per caregiver will likely open the door to a gray market that is indistinguishable from the legally-regulated market you and the staff have worked so hard on developing,” Nichole Snow, the president and executive director of the MPAA told the commissioners.

Later in the hearing, patient advocate Goldie Piff referred to MPAA’s “B.S. about caregivers” and urged support for caregivers. Dawn Duncan said the CCC’s proposed 10:1 ratio will benefit patients because it will allow caregivers to provide medical cannabis at a lower price.

“Caregivers are so very important. This is a very good number to ensure caregivers can provide the lowest possible cost medication to those most vulnerable,” she said.