Marijuana ‘Caregivers’ Getting Little Oversight
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Marijuana ‘Caregivers’ Getting Little Oversight
Posted by CN Staff on May 11, 2014 at 05:49:58 PT
By Shelley Murphy and Kay Lazar,  Globe Staff
Source: Boston Globe
Massachusetts -- The young woman pulled her Subaru wagon into the parking lot of a Framingham hotel Wednesday night for a prearranged meeting with someone she knew only as Kool Guy, a man with short black hair and glasses who resembled actor Joaquin Phoenix.She handed him $250 cash for an ounce of marijuana dubbed Blue Cheese. He threw in four free samples — chocolate and caramel candies laced with THC, the ingredient responsible for the drug’s high.
“The first time we met, I was nervous,” said the 31-year-old woman named Janeen, who found Kool Guy through a website that matches medical marijuana patients nationwide with “caregivers” in their area who supply cannabis that they have grown or bought from others. Now, making her fourth purchase to help with severe migraines, Janeen felt comfortable enough to bring along the 97-year-old woman she cares for.Kool Guy is part of a booming cottage industry of self-described caregivers who have jumped in to meet the demand created by the state’s year-and-a-half-old medical marijuana law. While Massachusetts health officials have been preoccupied with vetting and licensing storefront dispensaries, these entrepreneurs are hawking products with names such as Jack the Ripper and Sour Diesel on the Internet. They operate in a legal gray area, with no regulation or oversight.Bill Downing, a longtime activist for legalizing marijuana who is from Reading, said his company, Yankee Care Givers, delivers medicinal cannabis products grown by “old hippies” to about 940 patients throughout Massachusetts who order from the company’s website. His prices range from $320 an ounce for strains of marijuana called Green Crack, Sweet Tooth, and Blueberry Cannabis Flowers to $7 for another, edible variety, Green Karma Happy Taffy Lollies.The caregivers and patients such as Janeen, who asked to be identified by only her first name, said that they’ are following the law and state health regulations. The rules allow patients with doctor-provided certificates to grow marijuana or have a caregiver cultivate it or obtain it for them -- up to 10 ounces for a 60-day supply. Caregivers are limited to supplying just one patient at a time, but caregivers, patients, and even some police officials say the rules are unclear and open to interpretation.The state Department of Public Health issued guidelines for law enforcement in March, but Reading Police Chief James Cormier said they leave many questions unanswered.“We are in a big state of confusion right now,” he said. “What we need is a clear definition of what is a caregiver.”The state health agency is aware of the flourishing trade, but has apparently done nothing to stop it. Karen van Unen, director of the department’s medical marijuana program, declined to be interviewed, and did not answer questions submitted through a spokesman about whether the proliferation of online caregivers serving multiple customers violates state regulations.Van Unen released a statement, saying: “The Department actively cooperates with law enforcement when there are concerns about violations of these regulations, and is developing an online system which will provide law enforcement with real-time access to patient and caregiver registration, and will improve officials’ ability to monitor compliance.”Since voters legalized medical marijuana in November 2012, the state has granted preliminary approval for 20 dispensaries, but has delayed licensing them amid revelations that some of the companies made misrepresentations on their applications that the state failed to uncover before selecting them.Many patients have meanwhile received certificates from physicians allowing them to obtain marijuana for an array of conditions. But with dispensaries not expected to open until the fall at the earliest, they have turned to the Internet, where sites such as provide a list of eager suppliers.Patients and caregivers find each other through forums on the website and then arrange purchases through e-mail, private messaging, texting, and phone calls. The site includes patients’ ratings of caregivers, and frequent posts about upcoming deliveries around Massachusetts.“We are caregivers and patients on Cape Cod looking to help other patients in need,” read one post.Another person wrote, “Are there any caregivers that would be willing to grow for my wife? Not sure if this is even possible with these ridiculous MA laws.”Caregivers registered on the site say patients must provide a copy of their doctor’s certificate and identification before they will sell them marijuana. Some refer to their prices as a “donation,” in an apparent effort to comply with state regulations that prohibit caregivers from making a profit on marijuana.Many of the caregivers have their own doctors’ certificate that allows them to legally carry up to 10 ounces of marijuana in Massachusetts.“I don’t think I’m breaking the law,” said Kool Guy, who spoke on the condition he not be named for fear of legal problems and because he wants to maintain his privacy.“You have to fill the void with something and that’s what we’re doing right now. When the dispensaries open up, we are going to dwindle away.”Kool Guy said he grows a small amount of marijuana and has to buy from other caregivers to meet the demand of about 20 patients. He said he delivers to department store parking lots and million-dollar houses in Boston’s most affluent suburbs, depending on what the patient prefers.“I feel bad for these people,” said Kool Guy, who described his patients as mostly middle-aged and suffering from various ailments, including cancer, AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, chronic pain, and anxiety.Another caregiver who posts on the website said he is part of a cooperative composed of a small group of military veterans who grow marijuana for their medical needs and deliver any surplus to other patients.“We started out as patients and it wasn’t available, or what was available was steeply overpriced or black market,” he said, adding that he works a full-time construction job and only takes “donations” from other patients to offset the cost of cultivation.“You are not doing it for profit, you are doing it to help people,” he said.Tom Brandes of Phoenix, the administrator of, said he launched the site a couple of years ago when medical cannabis became legal in Arizona, then expanded to other states.Brandes said he doesn’t charge patients or caregivers to register and post messages. The site does not conduct background checks and it is up to patients and caregivers to vet each other and follow the law, he said.“I’m not going to try to police it; I can’t,” said Brandes, adding that he can’t keep drug dealers from trying to infiltrate the site, but enlists moderators to monitor activity.Downing, 55, the owner of Yankee Care Givers, said during a telephone interview that he is different from other caregivers on the Internet.“I’m the only actual caregiver,” he said. “Those guys are drug dealers.”Downing said the Department of Public Health is aware of his business because he sends it a form signed by each of his patients, designating him as their caregiver. He said it is unclear what the department does with the forms since the state has yet to create the planned registration system for patients and caregivers.Downing said the one-patient limit per caregiver does not apply to him because state regulations say personal care attendants are exempt from that rule and his business is defined as a personal services company. (Several other caregivers said in interviews they should not be limited to one patient because people shop around and do not stick with one caregiver.)Downing, the father of two teenaged boys, said his company is nonprofit and he was growing marijuana at his home until police warned him last month that they suspected he was going to be robbed and that he was endangering his family. He said police told him they believed his business was illegal, but did not arrest him.Cormier, the Reading chief, said he thinks Downing is breaking the law and has repeatedly asked the Department of Public Health over the last two months for a written opinion on whether he is.“I am frustrated with the DPH,” Cormier said. “I believe that there’s a potential loophole in terms of the so-called caregiver exception that is being exploited. The frustration comes because we need DPH to give us an opinion in writing and we have not received it.”Cormier said his department received numerous complaints from neighbors about Downing’s brisk business and he remains under investigation.Downing said he has relocated his business to an undisclosed site and is buying marijuana from “black market growers who have been in business for decades, servicing the market with high, organic quality marijuana . . . just old hippies.”Not everybody finds caregivers online. Scott Murphy, a 31-year-old Iraq veteran and father of three young children, said he started using marijuana about two years ago to ease the pain of his degenerative arthritis. Murphy buys tincture, a marijuana-infused oil, from a caregiver he met at a gathering of marijuana advocates.The caregiver process is far better than buying it off the street, he said, because it’s cheaper and his caregiver sells only products that have been lab-tested.“My caregiver switched to a delivery service that can meet you wherever it’s convenient for you, whether it be your house or another location,” said Murphy, a Newton resident who is completing his undergraduate degree, applying to law school, and running a nonprofit that promotes veterans’ health issues.Matthew Allen, executive director of the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance, said he gets calls daily from patients who are seeking a medical marijuana caregiver, but his organization is unable to help them because it does not have a system to ensure the services that are springing up are reliable and comply with state law.The alliance is lobbying to change the state regulation restricting caregivers to one patient, and wants to adopt the rules in Rhode Island and Maine, which allow five patients per caregiver.“We do want caregivers to offer this service, staying within the boundaries of the law,” Allen said. “But this regulation makes it impossible to do that even for those with the best intentions.”Source: Boston Globe (MA)Author: Shelley Murphy and Kay Lazar,  Globe Staff Published: May 10, 2014Copyright: 2014 Globe Newspaper CompanyContact: letter globe.comWebsite: URL:  Medical Marijuana  Archives 
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Comment #14 posted by Hope on May 18, 2014 at 20:27:41 PT
I hope you win, too.
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Comment #13 posted by runruff on May 15, 2014 at 22:16:32 PT
I do strive for mediocrity.
I am in the middle somewhere? Lots of "Good ol' boy's politics to over come but if I do not make it this time I will run again in "16. I must educate the sheeple before they know they are free!
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Comment #12 posted by FoM on May 15, 2014 at 19:43:25 PT
I really hope you win!
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Comment #11 posted by runruff on May 15, 2014 at 16:47:29 PT
What a ride this has been. 
I have met many of the highest ranking politicians here in Oregon including ol' Governor Kitzhaber. I am having a ball from the public podium throwing stones at just about everybody in government. I am every bit as out spoken to their faces as I am here at C/news. My wife says I am opening eyes and educating people to the reality of issues now being misunderstood. I am having a ball pissing a lot of people off and gaining a following.With the heart of a warrior I will fight from within or from without! With the spirit of Bravehart ["Your heart is free, have the courage to follow it" to Crazy Horse, "Today is a good day to die" to Davy Crockett, "Be sure you are right then go ahead"!I am all of these!
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Comment #10 posted by runruff on May 15, 2014 at 16:31:50 PT
Vote for county comissioner.
I promise to:Bring world peace!Solve world hunger!Housing for everyone!Look more handsome than ever!Get rich off of your tax dollars!Vote for 
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Comment #9 posted by museman on May 15, 2014 at 13:05:46 PT
my 22 cents
The "Rule of Law" is a heartless beast. An entity with more power than an illusion should have. In order to propagate this travesty of justice, fairness, and 'legal' equality the political clubs (called 'parties") were invented. These are the politicians. Their motivations can be summed up, truly, in a few words;"Greed, self satisfaction, and an overpowering need -or obsession- to get power -illicitly or otherwise- from others."All of the claims, carefully worded, including clever wit and 'humor' that the politician 'promises' and establishes as their 'platform' has only one goal; to get them elected.Once elected they have officially established themselves as viable members of the exclusive club of rulers, who use the "law" as an unassailable support mechanism. To be in that club, whether it is a low-level city councilperson, county commissioner, or any other 'legislative' body that can through the established social/political empowerment of "the law" gain their power and authority, one must fulfill a few pre-requisites.1. They must demonstrate a very high priority for generating capital and acquiring property and possession -at the expense of family and friends if need be. This loyalty to the prime values of the rulers is admired and respected by the same.2. They must be trained in the art of lying. History has shown that the largest and most effective school of lies, is Law. Lawyers represent such a huge majority of the political arena, their manipulation of the US Constitution since 1789 has produced the current system of Law and Government, ironically making the despotic reign of the King of England in some ways -those of actual liberty- look quite tame in comparison. 3. In accordance with the first two, they must have amassed a sufficient amount of moneys to support the lavish lifestyle and appearances of wealth and luxury, while managing to seem slightly modest in dress, maybe even a politically correct Hybrid vehicle, or etc. 4. Appearance. The more one looks like the Hollywood rendition of the Beautiful Person, then better your odds, regardless of the other 3. If you have money, a self-serving attitude, with a trained ability to lie convincingly, are a lawyer -and you look like a movie star, you are shoe-in.There are of course many people who try to join that club who think they can "change it from within" or that they are "serving the people" or something similar. These never make it past the first level on the initiation process -no doubt closely modeled after the Masonic "degrees." They become nothing more than glorified gophers, doing the bidding of their masters -actual club members- extending their hope that one day they too will be 'recognized for their work' and allowed to enter the sacrosanct membership of the club.Then there are those who are simply just lazy, and think others should pay them for their wit and cleverness alone. Cushy jobs those county seats.This perspective of "The Rule Of Law" has held the consciousness of the people in contempt for millennia. It was King George's (and a long history of the abuse of Kings) version of that that justified the break and revolution that resulted in this and other countries reforms of their governments, giving us globally a collective abhorrence of totalitarianism, despotic and lineage rule. The liberation of humanity from its own appointed task masters has been slow and painful until rather recently in history. The past few decades have given rise to a global awareness and communication -in no small part due to the internet- that has accelerated this process.The problem is limited scope. The enforcement of those limitations through law solves nothing, just moves the anger around. There are no "Blanket Solutions" no "One size fits all" jurisprudence. The fallible human mind cannot contain the full scope and perception of a fully awake consciousness, and the kinds of progressive and truly revolutionary decisions that must be made now and in the immediate future require wakefulness consciousness, not 'mental exercises' bound and constricted by the failed forms and finite, repetitive, ritualistic behavior patterns of current economic and political systems.In this day and age a current 3 year old may very well have a better grasp of reality that anyone who has devoted their life to conforming to the mundane systems woven together by the religion of Propriety, and the cult of Law. And there aren't any who have escaped it. We have all been bound to it to some degree of complicity, through giving in to our fears and desires -that are exploited quite large through the many agencies, departments, and promotional propaganda they fill our lives up with.About 6 months ago, after an adult lifetime of active political participation; Here's my short list;1968 - Started as a "Young Republican." Canvassed for him and another California Republican congressman. Personally responsible for registering over a hundred people to vote that year foe Nixon… (Booo! HIssss! Yeah. I know.)1970 -turnaround after my military experience…the beginnings of my political awakening. Got involved in the antiwar movement. Started adding my musical voice to that mix. Voted for the first time. Everyone and everything I voted for lost.1972 - McGovern. Played a lot of music in a lot of parks. And lot of canvassing. Registering democrats this time. We thought it obvious he would win…1976 - Tom Hayden. And Carter! We won! Finally. Talk of legalizing herb. Oregon had done the decrim already and California the year before ( I got one of the first "tickets"). THey put solar panels on the White House. What a relief after Nixon and his cronies! But then…The various SNAFUs going around like bargains with Iran, and the Contra rebels, the Iranian revolution and the taking of American hostages, resulted in a very (and obvious) suspicious event of sabotage or gross negligence (what the media was told to say) failure of a noble and tactically sound attempt to rescue the hostages. Carter was diminished, and come election time the "Ayatolla" gave us the ultimatum that we had to "elect Reagan, or no negotiations to free the hostages would be coming forth."Hmmmm.1982 OMG! It begins again! Worse!. The Gipper declares an official War On Drugs. Did I say I had become a democrat? Though I'd already made that choice, nothing could have motivated me more than witnessing this total actor playing a so obvious part. For 12 frigging years we threw one weak-ass democratic candidate after another at them, and they still maintained their G.O.B. foothold. Obviously the politics were't working. So we worked harder at it! Became more vocally adamant about certain radical ideas of personal liberties and such. Got harassed and the W.O.D. threatened to mute our voices because of the systemic discrediting of all things counter culture, and the very real threat of incarceration or bondage through compromise with the "Law."1992 Clinton. We should have got a clue from Waco. But, we wanted to "Believe." What a snake-oil salesman! And we are now into history that is probably familiar to most, so I just list the highlights.2000 Nader. I threw it all in for this guy. I witness the yuppified values and attitudes of the "Green Party." I didn't stay registered as a Green for very long.Then its back to the dark ages with 'Son of Bush.'One friggin horror story after another.And what do they all have in common? Scroll back up and read it.So about 6 months ago I emailed the county registrar and got 'unregistered.'To prove my point, a month later I was called for jury duty - for the 5th time in 5 years.Nope. I'm done. Its taken me over half a century to realize that all of this crap is just illusion and a literal waste of everybody's time, this 'Rule of Law" and the political path that claims to address it, but really embraces it.Love is just a word to most. They can say it here and there. They can flavor it wit practiced emotion. The "contractual agreements" of nearly every aspect of this systemic belief system called "reality" have no room for the actual practice.Consciousness is also an easy word to use, and the dictionary definition allows that one cannot use it in the context that I choose to use it in. Nonetheless it is an understanding some can get without the limitations of politically correct terminology obscuring the meaning.Consciousness and Love are part of the same Awakening that the Spirit of Man has been working on for millennia as well, and just as I have seen the overwhelming evidence of the corruption and fallacy of these systems of economics and law, I have also seen the evidence of their resolution.The things that we decide, effect the decisions and the events we must decide upon. For too long we have delegated our rightful, true inherited authority as sovereign human beings to pretenders, usurpers, vile intended, and the selfish minded, all because we were fooled into believing that they could take on our responsibility as well. Too long have we allowed our consciousness to slumber while a handful of wealthy rulers lived lives of luxury and opportunity at the expense of all the rest.Times up. The alarm has rung. The question is, does one stand up, or fall back asleep. Does one embrace a truly new day? 
Or just fall back in line for another one, just iike the other one…LEGALIZE FREEDOM
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Comment #8 posted by Hope on May 13, 2014 at 18:43:46 PT
Museman! I agree with FoM.
I was happy to see your moniker up there, too!
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on May 13, 2014 at 10:39:33 PT
It is wonderful to see you too!
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Comment #6 posted by runruff on May 13, 2014 at 09:07:50 PT
Yes, take a step backward...
Dinosaurs are most dangerous during their death throws.
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Comment #5 posted by runruff on May 13, 2014 at 08:37:00 PT
Hi Buddy!
You can't keep a good man down!
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Comment #4 posted by museman on May 13, 2014 at 07:54:16 PT
Good to see
you're still kickin' Herbdoc!Peace
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Comment #3 posted by Hope on May 12, 2014 at 19:34:32 PT
So delighted to see you! I'm sorry. I didn't even know you were sick. What happened?
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on May 12, 2014 at 13:35:15 PT
It is wonderful to see you! I didn't know you were having surgery. I hope you are better real soon!
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Comment #1 posted by herbdoc215 on May 12, 2014 at 13:31:59 PT
The closer the promised land, harder evit fights
Just wanted to drop in and say hello to everybody here and am finally feeling better and teaching again. Hope everybody is well and am finally getting over my (hope) final operation for awhile so will be much more involved in the future as well as shooting some real good videos now? Keep up the fight and am warming up on the bench and coming off the disabled list :) Peace, Steve Tuck
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