06/16/2011 10:51 am ET | Updated Aug 16, 2011

The Colorado Board Of Health Makes Controversial Changes To Amendment 20 Rules For Medical Marijuana Caregivers

On Wednesday, the Colorado Board of Health approved some changes to Amendment 20, which allows for medical use of marijuana in the state, that directly affects medical marijuana providers. The changes have pot advocates frustrated saying it may drive some caregivers out of business.

According to a 9News report, beginning at the end of July, medical marijuana caregivers must start providing more significant service to their patient other than simply providing marijuana and how to best use it. The Amendment 20 changes suggest that caregivers should be open to providing transportation, housekeeping or even meal preparation for their patients. The rule does not affect marijuana dispensaries, which are regulated by different laws.

There are approximately 16,000 medical marijuana caregivers in Colorado, according to The Denver Post, who provide pot for patients that are poor, have no access to a dispensary or can’t grow for themselves. And for most medical marijuana caregivers, this rule change vastly alters their relationship with their patients. A pot advocate spoke to 9News saying:

The only people speaking for and on behalf of this language are law enforcement. This is a constitutional amendment based upon sick people in the State of Colorado. Shame on you. Shame on a lot of you if you pass this.

But law enforcement officials claim that the new rule is intended not to interfere with legitimate caregivers, rather to clearly differentiate between a medical marijuana caregiver and an illegal drug dealer that uses the smokescreen of caregiver as a way to sell pot.

Michael Marcella, a caregiver from Colorado Springs spoke to The Denver Post about the impracticalities of the rule changes for caregivers, who are concerned this creates too big of a burden on their already struggling businesses:

I make no money doing this. I'm going broke doing this. I'm doing this because I care about people.

Visit Sensible Colorado or Colorado Chronix to learn more about medical marijuana caregivers and patient rules and visit NORML for more information about medical marijuana law.