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MMJ Dispensaries vs Caregivers vs Collectives

Colorado Dispensary, Caregiver or Collective/Cooperative

What's the Difference and Which is the Best?
Colorado medical marijuana patients who can present a valid Colorado medical marijuana card or license can now legally purchase cannabis and other MMJ products from Colorado state licensed, taxed and regulated medical marijuana businesses.  Colorado medical marijuana businesses that sell cannabis and other medical marijuana products directly to consumers, which in this case are Colorado medical marijuana patients, come in three forms.

Colorado medical marijuana businesses that distribute, sell or provide medical marijuana or other cannabis infused products directly to Colorado medical marijuana patients - i.e. Colorado medical marijuana providers - operate using one of three legal business models.  Most of these medical marijuana businesses provide medical marijuana, hash, marijuana edibles and other cannabis infused items and MMJ accessories to Colorado medical marijuana patients suffering from certain ailments and illnesses as defined by the State of Colorado.

Those interested in becoming a medical marijuana provider in Colorado and starting a Colorado medical marijuana business should make sure to do their due diligence before deciding what type of Colorado medical marijuana business model they would like to own and operate.  It is important to understand the differences between the three types of legal medical marijuana business models available to providers of medical marijuana in Colorado.  Its equally important to have a good grasp on the details, including and especially Colorado and Federal laws and regulations pertaining to the type of medical marijuana business you buy or start before you buy or start the business.

Following is a brief description of the three models under which Colorado businesses can legally sell marijuana to Colorado medical marijuana patients.

I. Medical Marijuana (MMJ) Dispensaries

Medical marijuana dispensaries sell cannabis to MMJ patients. Most Colorado medical marijuana dispensaries are sole-proprietorships, partnerships or for-profit businesses. Colorado medical marijuana dispensaries are probably the most widely known and recognized businesses providing cannabis to Colorado medical marijuana patients.  In Colorado, and other states in which marijuana is legal for medicinal use, the medical marijuana dispensary business model has been extremely popular.  In Colorado, dispensaries are also medical marijuana caregivers.

Colorado medical marijuana patients are required to choose a primary caregiver and have the opportunity to designate a medical marijuana dispensary as their primary caregiver.  Most Colorado medical marijuana dispensaries offer special deals and services to MMJ patients who sign up as members and elect them as their primary caregiver. But it is not required for Colorado medical marijuana patients to designate a dispensary as their primary caregiver in order to purchase medicinal cannabis and other MMJ products and services from the dispensary.

II. Medical Marijuana Caregivers

A medical marijuana caregiver is most often understood as the individual that is designated by a patient to have the "significant responsibility" for managing a patients well-being.  In 2006, Colorado courts ruled that in order to qualify as a primary caregiver, a person must do more than supply a patient that suffers from a debilitating medical condition with medical marijuana. On August 30 the Colorado state courts defined "significantly responsible for managing a patients well-being" as "assisting a patient with daily activities, including but not limited to transportation...or making any necessary arrangement for access to medical care or services or provision of medical marijuana".  This definition has been since been challenged and today the exact definition of medical marijuana caregiver is waiting to be more precisely determined.

While caregivers continue to play a vital role in, and make up a major of the Colorado medical marijuana industry, recent legal ruling have stripped away many advantages that the caregiver medical marijuana business model had over the other the legal medical marijuana provider models - i.e. dispensaries and collectives or cooperatives.

III. Medical Marijuana Collectives or Cooperatives

Colorado medical marijuana collectives or cooperatives, also known as coops, unlike medical marijuana dispensaries do not always involve the sale of cannabis.  Instead Colorado medical marijuana collectives or cooperatives are comprised of groups of state licensed Colorado medical marijuana patients that cultivate and share medical marijuana among members of the Collective or Cooperative.  Both for-profit and nonprofit collective and cooperative medical marijuana businesses exist in Colorado.

If you are considering becoming a Caregiver in Colorado or starting a Colorado medical marijuana dispensary, collective or coop, it is vitally important that you do your due diligence and fully understand the differences between different models of Colorado MMJ businesses.  Take your time to become familiar with every detail about the type of Colorado medical marijuana business you intend to run.


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