Medical marijuana was legalized in California back in 1996, but since then, lawmakers have been slow to roll out any true regulations to govern it, causing many problems across the state for dispensaries, patients and their caregivers.
But in early June, AB 266 was passed, finally providing stringent regulation (some say too stringent) for a medical cannabis industry. These regulations are going to make it difficult for the underground cannabis industry-that is, unless recreational marijuana use is legalized in California as it has in other states like Colorado, Washington and Oregon.
Here are a few items in AB 266 that are worth noting:
- AB 266 fully legalizes any activity relating to medical marijuana in clear terms for law enforcement, so that license-holders and licensed activity "are not unlawful under state law and shall not be an offense subject to arrest, prosecution, or other sanction under state law, or be subject to a civil fine or be a basis for seizure or forfeiture of assets under state law." This should help prevent patients, caregivers and collective members from having to defend their actions in court, and prevent them from having to go to court at all.
- The industry is allowed to make a profit. In the past, operators have gone to jail for profiting from medical marijuana.
- Once licenses are issued by the state, collectives will be phased out.
- Now all non-personal cannabis activity is defined as commercial, requiring an appropriate license from the twelve offered. Three main types are offered: Cultivation (types 1-4), manufacturer (types 6 and 7), and dispensary (type 10). Also offered are licenses for testing, distribution and transporter. Yes, that means deliveries will be allowed.
- Fees for licensing will be expensive and based on licensing cost.
- Unfortunately, the bans will be allowed to stand, where cities and counties are allowed to ban medical cannabis activity.
- Mandatory testing will be required for potency, pesticides and molds.
"AB 266 works to fix a system that has been broken for almost two decades," said Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland). "California was the first state in the nation to approve medical cannabis with the passage of Prop 215 in 1996, but since then we as a state have stagnated, and it is time that the Legislature takes definitive action on this important issue."
What will be troublesome is that the bill deliberately stops at defining some of the key friction points about this issue. For instance, AB 266 says that mega-farm licenses will be limited, but is vague about how limited. Potency and purity standards have not been specified. All of these points will create quite a debate in the public and in Sacramento's halls. Also, since there will be a dual licensing structure with both a state and local permit, the licensing laws will become even harder for those without legal knowledge to understand.
To read the entire AB-266 bill, click here. For help with any legal problem you've encountered while exercising your right to medical cannabis, please call us for a free case review. 866-416-2161
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