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What Are Sweet Leaf's MMJ Patients Supposed to Do Without Caregivers?

After eight Sweet Leaf locations in Colorado were raided on December 14, fifteen of its current and former budtenders were arrested.EXPAND
After eight Sweet Leaf locations in Colorado were raided on December 14, fifteen of its current and former budtenders were arrested.
Scott Lentz

After all eight of Sweet Leaf's Denver dispensaries indefinitely closed and fifteen employees were arrested for alleged illegal marijuana sales, most media coverage has focused on those arrested and the dispensary chain itself. But what about Sweet Leaf's medical marijuana patients?

Sweet Leaf started as a medical dispensary before it expanded into ten pot shops in metro Denver, and nine still hold a medical dispensary license with the state Marijuana Enforcement Division. However, Sweet Leaf's 26 cultivation, processing and dispensary licenses in Denver are still suspended by the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses until a decision is issued by the City of Denver, which is expected in March. As the Denver Police Department and Denver District Attorney's Office continue their investigations and prosecutions, hundreds of Sweet Leaf employees are looking for work — and possibly even more MMJ patients are looking for affordable medicine.

The Colorado medical marijuana program allows patients to grow their own plants at home or designate a caregiver or primary care center (a dispensary cultivation) to grow and process their medicine for them. Many of Colorado's 85,000-plus marijuana patients have gone the dispensary route, allowing grows to hold more plants for overall medical sales. The dispensaries that own those grows give those medical patients discounts on marijuana products in return, with many patients depending on those discounts for daily and weekly medication.

Sweet Leaf's Aurora and Federal Heights locations have reopened since the DPD raids across multiple company locations on December 14, but the City of Aurora only allows retail pot sales, and although the Federal Heights store has a medical license, it's currently only selling retail products. But that doesn't mean Sweet Leaf patients are stuck in the mud. According to the MED, patients can reassign their caregivers quickly and with relative ease.

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A compliance notice from the MED details how MMJ patients can register with a new caregiver or primary care center "from a former and now unresponsive center," and most medical dispensaries should know how to accommodate those requests, as the notice was written specifically for them at the end of last year.

Patients must provide a new chosen caregiver with written authorization of the change and agree that they haven't designated another caregiver within the last thirty days. They must also provide the new caregiver with any relevant plant-count waivers, a copy of their MMJ registry card, and a copy of proof of identification, according to the MED.

Read the full notice below:

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