Arizona Republic:  “Patients with medical-marijuana cards can buy their medicines at one location in Phoenix.   Elements Caregivers Collective is the only permitted location for a dispensary so far in northeast Phoenix, and the only one of several applications for the area to meet the city’s zoning standards and receive a permit. The nearest dispensary applicants with approved permits are near Deer Valley Airport and Metrocenter. . . . According to permit holder Ingrid Joya, the shop is able to distribute medical marijuana as a group of caregivers who are allowed by law to grow marijuana for their patients. . . . Memberships range from $75 to $100, and they entitle patients to 1/8 ounce. Further purchases cost extra.  The collective keeps tight records on its patients, Joya says, and exceeds legal requirements.”

This story is troubling from a legal perspective for several reasons:

1.  Arizona’s medical marijuana law does not allow patients to buy medical marijuana from any source other than a dispensary licensed by the Arizona Department of Health Services.  ADHS has not issued a single medical marijuana dispensary license so how can patients legally buy marijuana from Elements Cargivers Collective or its caregivers?  Was the reporter ignorant of the law and did he misstate what actually happens at the collective?

2.  How can Elements Caregivers Collective be the “only permitted location for a dispensary”  when there are no licensed medical marijuana dispensaries in Arizona?

3.  Sounds like patients are paying money to purchase marijuana, which is not authorized by Arizona’s medical marijuana laws.  Arizona Revised Statutes Section 36-2811.B, states:

“A registered qualifying patient or registered designated caregiver is not subject to arrest, prosecution or penalty in any manner, or denial of any right or privilege, including any civil penalty or disciplinary action by a court or occupational or professional licensing board or bureau . . . For offering or providing marijuana to a registered qualifying patient or a registered designated caregiver for the registered qualifying patient’s medical use or to a registered nonprofit medical marijuana dispensary if nothing of value is transferred in return and the person giving the marijuana does not knowingly cause the recipient to possess more than the allowable amount of marijuana.”

4.  How can a collective have patients?  Arizona’s medical marijuana law does not authorize anybody to have medical marijuana patients except licensed dispensaries and a licensed caregiver who can have as many as five patients.  Elements Caregivers Collective is not a licensed dispensary nor is it a licensed caregiver.

4.  What does it mean to “keep tight records on patients?”   Does Elements Caregivers Collective keep written records of the following transactions:

a.  Source of all medical marijuana, date of acquisition, amount of marijuana and consideration paid for the marijuana?

b.  Indicate on all marijuana its source so the marijuana can be tracked?  Caregiver A’s marijuana must go only to Caregiver A’s patients.  Caregiver B’s marijuana must go only to Caregiver B’s patients.  The collective must be able to prove the trail of marijuana from its source to the patient.

c.  Name of patient who receives marijuana, name of caregiver who provided the marijuana, date of the delivery, amount, and a signed representation and warranty from the patient that the receipt of the marijuana will not cause the patient to exceed his or her allowable 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks.

I recommend that the transactions described in a. and c. above be evidenced by a written document signed by each party whose signatures are acknowledged before an Arizona notary public.  I  would also attach a copy of each signer’s photo id and a copy of the patient’s and caregiver’s ADHS registration card to the signed document.

When it comes to record keeping, the caregiver must be able to prove to the police and ADHS that the caregiver gave his or her marijuana to one of his or her patients and that the gift did not cause the patient to exceed the two week allowance of 2.5 ounces.  If you are a caregiver can you prove your marijuana went to your patients?  If not, you are not complying with Arizona’s medical marijuana laws.

5.  Does Elements Caregivers Collective or its agents ever possess marijuana?  The only parties who are allowed to possess marijuana under Arizona medical marijuana laws are licensed:  (i) patients, (ii) caregivers, (iii) dispensary agents, and (iv) dispensaries.  Elements Caregivers Collective is none of those.

I am not suggesting that Elements Caregivers Collective is violating Arizona’s medical marijuana laws.  I don’t know what it does exactly.  My information about Elements Caregivers Collective comes from the article in the Arizona Republic linked to above, which was apparently written by a reporter who does not understand Arizona’s medical marijuana laws and may have made statements that are misleading and/or inaccurate.

P.S.  Words of advice to all licensed Arizona medical marijuana patients, caregivers and dispensaries (would be and actual in the future):  Do not give interviews to the media.  Keep a low profile.  Try to be invisible.  Stay off the radar scope of ADHS, the police and the DEA.

For more on this topic read my article called “Are Arizona Cannabis Clubs Legal Under Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Laws?