- Associated Press - Friday, January 24, 2014

DENVER (AP) - In a story Jan. 14 about marijuana caregivers, The Associated Press reported erroneously the nature of the regulatory oversight for some marijuana caregivers supported by the Colorado Revenue Department. The Department supports requiring some high-volume caregivers to undergo a screening process, but doesn’t support regulating them once they’re licensed, such as monitoring their plants or levying excise taxes, like commercial growers.

A corrected version of the story is below:

Marijuana loophole in Colorado under scrutiny

Marijuana loophole in Colorado under scrutiny, as lawmakers turn sights to tax scofflaws

By KRISTEN WYATT

Associated Press

DENVER (AP) - Colorado lawmakers are debating whether they should close a loophole in the state’s marijuana laws that could allow pot growers to pay far less in taxes by registering as the medical marijuana caregivers.

Colorado’s chief medical officer and the head of the agency that regulates marijuana businesses asked a panel of legislators Tuesday to examine the laws that regulate pot suppliers who provide the drug to people on the medical registry.

They say some caregivers have large operations with up to 100 patients, with hundreds of marijuana plants, and are essentially commercial growers skirting proper oversight. Caregivers, they note, can sell marijuana to medical patients at the 2.9 percent tax rate, while recreational pot carries a 25 percent state tax, in addition to local taxes.

The state’s top medical officer, Dr. Larry Wolk, said high-volume marijuana caregivers are violating the spirit of the law.

“I am fairly certain that doesn’t meet the definition of a caregiver,” Wolk said.

Medical marijuana advocates, however, say that a change in the law would be premature and could cause already shrinking supplies of the drug to dwindle further.

“The state of Colorado’s interest is not in the health of the patients, it’s in the money. And that’s disgusting,” said Laura Kriho of the Cannabis Therapy Institute.

There are about 5,000 registered caregivers in the state, and the application process remains open. Those seeking the designation don’t face the extensive background checks or fees required of those who grow or sell pot commercially.

Caregivers are required only to be 18 or older and have “significant responsibility for managing the well-being of a patient who has a debilitating medical condition.”

Story Continues →