Making the decision to be a provider Making the Decision to Provide Medical Cannabis

Medical cannabis patients and their providers are vulnerable to law enforcement raids, arrest, prosecution, and incarceration.  They suffer pervasive discrimination in employment, child custody, housing, public accommodation, education and medical care. Laws protecting patients and their providers vary from state to state, and in some cases may vary from city to city or county to county. Sometimes individuals choose to break outdated laws in states that do not account for medical use or safe access. And no matter what state you are living in, medical cannabis patients and their providers are always violating federal law.

Providing medical cannabis is important, compassionate, hard work.  You should think carefully about your level of commitment, and the risk you are willing to take, before you begin this project.  Some people would do better for themselves, the patients, and the grassroots movement for medical cannabis if they decided not to provide medical cannabis.  There are easier and safer ways to earn a living.  This is a line of work that is most appropriate for people who are committed to compassion and to the cause of medical cannabis. If you are in a medical cannabis state and are not committed to upholding the letter and the spirit of the state laws and local rules, and to conducting your business affairs in an ethical and reputable manner, then you should not pursue this line of work. You will do more harm than good.

New cannabis providers also do well to reflect honestly upon their motives for opening  this type of business.  Your motives will influence how you operate your facility and the decisions you make regarding your patients and community.  The consequences for making bad decisions are serious for you, the patients, the community, and medical cannabis in general.  If you say that your motive is compassion, then your actions should reflect this. Neighbors, elected officials, and police officers recognize principled people and can tell if you’re being insincere.  Do not put yourself and others at risk by failing to examine your motives.


Making the choice to participate in a medical cannabis program or to resist current laws should be done with thoughtful consideration. Following the law in your local area may not always protect you from law enforcement encounters, and the more you know about your rights, the more likely you will be to have a successful encounter with law enforcement. It’s important to also remember that the best law enforcement encounter is the one that never happens.  Get educated, take precautions, and be ready to assert your rights in an emergency. ASA can help you get ready.

Providing medical cannabis can be a great cause and/or career for you, if you do it right. ASA helped create the safe legal and political space for providers’ associations nationwide. With your help and participation, we can preserve and expand that space moving forward.