After nearly 20 years since voters approved Proposition 215, the California State Assembly on Sept. 11 finally has adopted a comprehensive statewide regulatory framework for medical marijuana — and made it clear to law enforcement that medical marijuana is legal and here to stay.
Up until the passage of a package of reforms contained in AB 243, AB 266, and SB 643 medical marijuana businesses — namely collectives and dispensaries — have been handled through a patchwork of local zoning and permitting ordinances with no real statewide rules. The two bills create a system of multiagency licensing and regulations that make the treatment of medical marijuana more consistent throughout California.
Historic Medical Marijuana Legislation Reforms
There are some important and historic ways that the reforms adopted by the legislature affect California’s approach to medical marijuana. Among the changes to existing California law regarding medical are:
- An emphatic statement that people with medical marijuana licenses and licensed activity are not subject to arrest, prosecution, sanction, civil fines, or asset forfeiture. That’s a change from the current situation in which patients, caregivers, and people who had established collectives could be prosecuted and have to assert medical marijuana as an affirmative defense to get the charge dismissed or to triumph at trial.
- Medical marijuana can be delivered under certain circumstances.
- Medical marijuana businesses such as dispensaries that currently must be registered as not-for-profits or risk prosecution may now earn profits.
- Creates a dual-tiered state and local system of licensing for cultivation, manufacturing, testing, dispensing, distributing, and transporting medical marijuana.
- Requires lab testing of medical marijuana, ensuring more consistent quality and safety for patients.
- Phases out collectives one year after the state begins to issue licenses.
- The state will charge a fee for licenses and allow additional taxing of medical marijuana activity at the local level.
However, some things will stay the same under the new system.
- Patients and caregivers retain their rights under Prop 215.
- Doctors can continue to recommend medical marijuana without sanction.
- Cities and counties can continue to ban collectives, dispensaries, and other activities.
With reforms this sweeping, it’ll take some time to see how everything shakes out. But tentatively this looks like some good news for patients, caregivers, and business owners who have faced prosecution for exercising the rights given to them in Proposition 215 and subsequent legislation.
California Medical Marijuana Attorney
If you’re a patient, caregiver, or business owner, California medical marijuana law firm McElfresh Law can help you understand how this set of medical marijuana reforms might affect you. We represent people charged with criminal offenses who need help asserting a medical marijuana defense. We also have significant experience helping business owners to establish medical marijuana dispensaries in San Diego and the surrounding area. Call us at (858) 756-7107 for a free consultation today.
California marijuana laws change frequently. For updated information, see the following pages: Medicinal Uses of Marijuana and Recreational Marijuana Business