What is reasonable compensation for the investment, labor, and
risk incurred by the caregiver?
This leaves the question of what is “reasonable compensation” for
the investment, labor, and risk incurred by the caregiver alone. There are no
legally established standards for wages for marijuana growers or sellers as
there are for government workers. Therefore we have to look elsewhere for
Some people have sought to compare the reasonable wages of the
caregiver against those of the gardener. The argument is that this is just
another form of gardening, so the compensation should be low.
The first problem with this argument is that growing saleable
marijuana (i.e., marijuana that people would be willing to smoke) is not as
easy as growing marigolds. The average gardener can grow crap but nobody wants
to smoke crap. Growing the good stuff, and nursing it through all the problems
that can happen to a crop takes more skill.
The second problem with that comparison is the risk. One of the
factors in determining “reasonable compensation” in business is the risk
involved in the enterprise.
All enterprises suffer a risk of failure with the loss of any
invested capital and labor. That risk is quite high with any new enterprise,
even if the enterprise does not have the issues associated with medical
marijuana. As part of planning for the risk, the enterprise must accumulate
cash reserves over and above current expenses to protect against unforeseen
problems and to provide for maintenance and replacement of equipment.
In addition, part of the compensation must be a “reasonable” return
on the expenditures considering the risk of the investment. After all, this is
not like putting money into a bank account. Providing marijuana shares all the
risks of any conventional enterprise, as well as the many risks faced by
farmers. In addition to all the risks faced by any other farming or business
enterprise, medical marijuana providers face the unique risk that the Federal
Government, or even the local police, will seize all their property and seek to
put them in prison for life. If we were to offer such a risk to any insurance
company, the premium would be off the charts. The question of what is
“reasonable compensation” to risk property seizures and criminal prosecution is
one that can only be answered by the brave few who will attempt it.