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California Will Finally Regulate Its Medical Marijuana Industry


california medical marijuanaBy Phillip Smith

After nearly 20 years of wrangling over what is and is not legal under California’s 1996 Proposition 215 medical marijuana law, the state legislature has passed a set of bills designed to bring order to the chaos.

After working with Gov. Jerry Brown (D) on acceptable language, the Assembly and the Senate Friday passed Assembly Bill 243Assembly Bill 266, and Senate Bill 643. The session ended at midnight.

If, as expected, Gov. Brown signs the bills into law, the medical marijuana status quo, rife with ambiguities, contradictions, and gray areas, will be transformed into a robust, strictly regulated medical marijuana industry. It won’t always be painless, and there will be winners and losers.

For starters, the bills will once and for all clarify to law enforcement that licensed medical marijuana producers and their activities “are not unlawful under state law and shall not be an offense subject to arrest, prosecution, or sanction under state law, or be subject to a civil fine or be a basis for seizure or forfeiture of assets under state law.”

The bills also clarify that medical marijuana can be a profit-making and -taking industry. Some local law enforcement and prosecutors have used making a profit as a basis for charging medical marijuana operators. Now, no more.

Patients and caregivers maintain their Prop 215 rights to possess and grow their own medicine, but collectives will be phased out, and anyone who wants to grow more than a personal amount will need a license. The bills provide for 12 different types of licenses, for “specialty,” small, and medium indoor, outdoor, and mixed-light commercial grows; manufacturers, testers, transporters, distributors, and dispensaries.”

Patients and providers who reside in localities hostile to medical marijuana may still be out of luck, though. The bills allow cities and counties to continue to ban such activities (although not deliveries).

There remains work to be done. Potency and purity standards haven’t been set yet, the dual licensing structure with both state and local permits hasn’t been settled, and lots of issues remain to be hashed out by state officials charged with writing regulations to implement the bills.

But California’s billion dollar medical marijuana industry is about to come in from the cold.

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  1. I’m not sure under this new bill if they can ban personal use growing now. It makes personal use cultivation and possession an exclusive right other than a defense, and it only limits cities to ban commercial marijuana activity. Whether that includes personal grows is a good question for now.

  2. This part annoys me the most: “Patients and providers who reside in localities hostile to medical marijuana may still be out of luck, though. The bills allow cities and counties to continue to ban such activities (although not deliveries).”

    For goodness sakes – when will we pass legislation allowing someone to “grow their own”?

    If I want to brew my own beer, or make my own wine, I can (within reasonable limits). We need to draw a line in the sand with respect to the communities who have passed “zero grow” ordinances – preventing people from growing any cannabis. Communities do this as a way of bypassing prop 215 and SB 420 – and pro-cannabis proponents have allowed this to stand. Users cannot remain silent on this issue.

    The November 2016 initiative MUST contain a clause that prevents local communities (cities and counties) from banning “personal use” gardens. If it doesn’t, then “legalization” will serve only to enrich the growers, distributors, and dispensaries – leaving the “users” with the short stick.

    At the risk of sounding redundant, specifically permitting adults to “grow their own” – no matter where they – live is a must-have.

  3. David Allen, a retired heart surgeon and expert on cannabinoid medicine, warns against the unintended consequences of the new Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act. According to Allen, the proposed law “will create more crimes of cultivation, processing, storage, transportation, sales, and possession. It will create an army of bureaucrats that will increase the police state and create super drug task force solely for Cannabis and no other drug,”

  4. Right. – Showing yet again that all this action is designed to prepare for the end of all marijuana prohibition.

  5. By that time we will legalise through voter’s initiative!
    And the feds will reschedule.
    All these laws will be obsolete

  6. So we go from having a Dr rec
    To 1 if 7 licenses
    And somehow they claim it doesn’t interfere with a “voter’s initiative ”
    Only a vote could change that.
    The other 2 bills are stinking the room up
    Going after DRS who write too many recs
    Another attempt to undermine prop 215
    “For any illness ”
    These bills will be challenged in court and will only make access
    Less safe and affordable
    most of this is more #prohibition with a spin.

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