Medical Marijuana Distributors


The Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA), which consists of AB 243, AB 266, and SB 643, forms a comprehensive regulatory scheme for the cultivation, testing, distribution, and sale of medical marijuana. As such, it is important for any prospective or existing medical marijuana distributor to understand the requirements of this law.

If you have questions regarding medical marijuana distribution, contact an experienced California medical marijuana lawyer at McElfresh Law. We can help you navigate the rapidly changing and complex California laws. Call today at (858) 756-7107.

Free consultation for criminal defense cases only. Cannabis business consultation requires a fee.

Legal Requirements for Medical Marijuana Distributors Under MMRSA

MMRSA defines a distributor as a person licensed to engage in the business of purchasing medical marijuana from a licensed cultivator, or manufacturer, for sale to a licensed dispensary. Practically speaking, distributors are responsible for the transport of medical marijuana among the various “seed to sale” businesses.

Under MMRSA, all medical marijuana cultivators and manufacturers are required to provide their products to a licensed distributor. The distributor is responsible for the following:

  • Inspecting the product to confirm its identity and quality
  • Sending the product to a licensed medical marijuana testing laboratory for batch testing and to certify that the product meets regulatory safety standards
  • Performing a final quality assurance review before sending the product to a licensed dispensary for sale or returning it to a producer (i.e. cultivator or manufacturer)

While MMRSA allows cultivators, manufacturers, and dispensaries to directly enter into contracts with one another regarding the pricing and quantity of medical marijuana products to be distributed, distributors are permitted to collect fees for their services.

Types of Licenses for Medical Marijuana Distributors

Distributors must hold a Type 11 license, which is a new kind of entity created under MMRSA. A Type 11 licensee:

  • Must register each location where a medical marijuana product is stored for the purposes of distribution
  • Cannot hold a license in a cultivation, manufacturing, dispensing, or testing category
  • Cannot own or have an ownership interest in any other type of licensed medical marijuana business

Distributors must also hold a Type 12 license in order to legally transport medical marijuana products from one licensed business location to another. Licensed transporters can also obtain a Type 11 license, but cannot hold any other type of license.

Who is Eligible to Become a Licensed Medical Marijuana Distributor?

In order to qualify for state licensing, the distributor must provide proof of local authorization and evidence of a legal right to operate in the proposed jurisdiction. Local jurisdictions have the right to prohibit any commercial medical marijuana activity and many do. The estimated timeline for the state licensing process to begin is January 2018.

As with other medical marijuana business entities under MMRSA, distributors that are in compliance with local and state requirements by January 1, 2018, will be allowed to continue operating while their state license application is being reviewed. It is critical for prospective distributors to immediately start the process of getting local zoning and permits if they haven’t already begun to do so.

Sophisticated Representation for Your Medical Marijuana Business

MMRSA is part of a complicated patchwork of state and local medical marijuana regulations. Anyone considering becoming a licensed distributor or starting a medical marijuana business should consult with a qualified medical marijuana lawyer.

San Diego medical marijuana attorney Jessica McElfresh has extensive experience helping medical marijuana businesses successfully navigate the regulatory system and obtain the licenses and zoning permits they need to legally operate. To learn more about how we can help or to discuss your business plans, contact McElfresh Law today at (858) 756-7107.

This website is intended for informational purposes only. Use of this website does not create an attorney-client relationship. Free consultation for criminal defense cases only. Cannabis business consultation requires a fee.