California was the first state to have a medical marijuana program, established with Proposition 215 (also known as the “Compassionate Act”) in 1996 and Senate Bill 420 in 2003. On October 9, 2015, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA), introducing significant changes to the complex legal issues surrounding medical marijuana in California.
A number of different illnesses qualify for medical marijuana use under Proposition 215, including anorexia, cancer, migraines, chronic pain, HIV, glaucoma, persistent muscle spasms, and any debilitating illness for which a licensed physician, osteopath, or surgeon has deemed marijuana use appropriate. (Chiropractors, herbal therapists, and other practitioners do not qualify as physicians for medical marijuana purposes.)
There are currently no possession limits and no home cultivation limits for medical marijuana under state law. Nevertheless, there have been many raids and arrests of legal patients in California, when neighbors complain or police feel that the amounts grown are excessive or medical recommendations are dubious.
Changes in the Medical Marijuana Marketplace under MMRSA
The new act means that California will be moving away from a grey-area, unregulated marijuana marketplace to a regime regulated by state law. For the federal Department of Justice to disengage from prosecution of cannabis production, distribution, and sales in California, stringent regulations will need to be adopted by the State.
MMRSA is a package of 3 different bills regulating the medical cannabis industry: AB 266, AB 243, and SB 643. The Act creates a new state agency within the Department of Consumer Affairs — the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation — with the purpose of developing licensing procedures and rules for authorized dispensaries of medical cannabis. Dispensaries must be in compliance with local guidelines to receive a state license, and new regulations will not prohibit local sales tax on marijuana sales where it already exist, or override municipal moratoriums.
The medical marijuana economy in California currently consists of nonprofit cooperatives and nonprofit mutual benefit corporations. Under AB 266, for-profit businesses will be able to obtain state operational medical marijuana licenses.
The Act provides for 17 different types of medical marijuana operations licenses, and with only one exception, prohibits vertical integration (combining production stages normally handled by separate companies within one company). Growers will be limited to 4 cultivated acres of marijuana each, regardless of the combination of licenses they hold.
Los Angeles Medical Marijuana Attorney
At the Law Offices of Omar Gastelum & Associates, PLC, our criminal defense lawyers represent people facing drug charges in the Los Angeles area. If you are a medical marijuana patient arrested or charged with possession or cultivation, contact our office as soon as possible. A drug crime conviction on your record could have a negative impact on your future, and our medical marijuana attorneys can help.
We are an established criminal defense firm with many years of experience, and our medical marijuana attorneys know the law! The criminal defense lawyers with our firm are proven advocates who will work hard and fight aggressively to protect your rights and interests.
- CA Dept of Public Health: Proposition 215