There are going to be situations where a person who was prescribed medical marijuana may be under the care of a primary caregiver. If this is the case, not only does the person prescribed medical marijuana need the State’s approval to use the drug, but the primary caregiver needs to undergo an approval process as well. This is due to the fact that many primary caregivers handle medications for the person they are taking care of and will need to be licensed to transport medical marijuana.
The state defines a qualifying primary caregiver as the following:
“Primary caregiver” or “caregiver” means a resident of the State who:
a. is at least 18 years old;
b. has agreed to assist with a registered qualifying patient’s medical use of marijuana, is not currently serving as primary caregiver for another qualifying patient, and is not the qualifying patient’s physician;
c. has never been convicted of possession or sale of a controlled dangerous substance, unless such conviction occurred after the effective date of this act and was for a violation of federal law related to possession or sale of marijuana that is authorized under this act;
d. has registered with the department pursuant to section 4 of this act, and has satisfied the criminal history record background check requirement of section 4 of this act; and
e. has been designated as primary caregiver on the qualifying patient’s application or renewal for a registry identification card or in other written notification to the department.
This definition in the CUMMA Act gives us some initial insight into the stringent standards that a primary caregiver must meet. For instance, if you are the primary caregiver for both of your parents and both of them have been prescribed medical marijuana, then you are only able to handle medical marijuana for one of them. In addition, a primary caregiver must also go through the same qualification process as a person prescribed medical marijuana with the exception of obtaining a subscription from a registered physician. The CUMMA Act gives detailed information about the background check and additional processes that a primary caregiver must follow in section 4 of the Act. It states:
c. (1) The commissioner shall require each applicant seeking to serve as a primary caregiver to undergo a criminal history record background check. The commissioner is authorized to exchange fingerprint data with and receive criminal history record background information from the Division of State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation consistent with the provisions of applicable federal and State laws, rules, and regulations. The Division of State Police shall forward criminal history record background information to the commissioner in a timely manner when requested pursuant to the provisions of this section.
An applicant seeking to serve as a primary caregiver shall submit to being fingerprinted in accordance with applicable State and federal laws, rules, and regulations. No check of criminal history record background information shall be performed pursuant to this section unless the applicant has furnished his written consent to that check. An applicant who refuses to consent to, or cooperate in, the securing of a check of criminal history record background information shall not be considered for inclusion in the registry as a primary caregiver or issuance of an identification card. An applicant shall bear the cost for the criminal history record background check, including all costs of administering and processing the check.
(2) The commissioner shall not approve an applicant seeking to serve as a primary caregiver if the criminal history record background information of the applicant reveals a disqualifying conviction. For the purposes of this section, a disqualifying conviction shall mean a conviction of a crime involving any controlled dangerous substance or controlled substance analog as set forth in chapter 35 of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes except paragraph (4) of subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:35-10, or any similar law of the United States or of any other state.
(3) Upon receipt of the criminal history record background information from the Division of State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the commissioner shall provide written notification to the applicant of his qualification or disqualification for serving as a primary caregiver.
If the applicant is disqualified because of a disqualifying conviction pursuant to the provisions of this section, the conviction that constitutes the basis for the disqualification shall be identified in the written notice.
(4) The Division of State Police shall promptly notify the commissioner in the event that an individual who was the subject of a criminal history record background check conducted pursuant to this section is convicted of a crime or offense in this State after the date the background check was performed. Upon receipt of that notification, the commissioner shall make a determination regarding the continued eligibility of the applicant to serve as a primary caregiver.
(5) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection b. of this section to the contrary, no applicant shall be disqualified from serving as a registered primary caregiver on the basis of any conviction disclosed by a criminal history record background check conducted pursuant to this section if the individual has affirmatively demonstrated to the commissioner clear and convincing evidence of rehabilitation. In determining whether clear and convincing evidence of rehabilitation has been demonstrated, the following factors shall be considered:
a. the nature and responsibility of the position which the convicted individual would hold, has held, or currently holds;
b. the nature and seriousness of the crime or offense;
c. the circumstances under which the crime or offense occurred;
d. the date of the crime or offense;
e. the age of the individual when the crime or offense was committed;
f. whether the crime or offense was an isolated or repeated incident;
g. any social conditions which may have contributed to the commission of the crime or offense; and
h. any evidence of rehabilitation, including good conduct in prison or in the community, counseling or psychiatric treatment received, acquisition of additional academic or vocational schooling, successful participation in correctional work-release programs, or the recommendation of those who have had the individual under their supervision.