New California Medical Marijuana Regulations – Part One

new-california-medical-marijuana-regulations-part-oneNew California Medical Marijuana Regulations have been passed by legislators. On September 11, 2015, legislators in California passed three important medical cannabis bills, Assembly Bills 266 and 243 and Senate Bill 643.  These bills are contingent upon each other, and will become law as soon as they are signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Insiders say the potential for California to legalize cannabis in 2016 was the main reason California lawmakers finally decided to act by creating necessary legislation to regulate this industry.  The regulation required by these bills creates the framework for a new California medical marijuana regulations system that will introduce long term stability into this market.

California Medical Marijuana Regulations

These medical marijuana regulations will require time-consuming and expensive processes for compliance, but businesses, as long as they obtain the necessary medical cannabis licenses and they follow the rules governing those licenses, will be rewarded by being able to operate legally.  Two medical marijuana licenses will be required for each operation, one issued by local authorities and the other issued by the State agency.  Obtaining those licenses is a two-step process; applicants must first obtain the local permit or license before they can apply for the State license.  The State will not consider the application for the state medical marijuana license unless the applicant has already obtained the local permit or license required.

As a result of the passage of these bills, individuals and businesses operating in the medical cannabis industry will be protected from arrest, prosecution or other legal sanctions if they obtain the required licenses.  However, if individuals and businesses do not obtain the proper licenses and they are engaged in medical cannabis activity, they will be subjected to not only criminal penalties, but also civil penalties of up to twice the amount of the license fees for each violation.  Each day of operation is charged as a separate violation.

In addition to the creation of regulatory framework, there are two major changes that will result from the passage and implementation of these medical cannabis bills.

First, medical marijuana collectives and cooperatives will no longer be allowed to operate; they will be replaced by licensed, background checked, commercial medical marijuana growers, distributors and sellers.  The law calls for many types of state industry licenses, including 10 types of cultivation licenses (depending on the size of the garden), 2 types of manufacturer licenses, a testing license, 2 dispensary licenses, a distribution license, and a transporter license.  Licensees will only be able to hold up to two licenses in separate categories.

Second, medical cannabis related businesses will no longer be required to operate on a not-for-profit basis as required under SB 420.  Under the new licensing provisions, qualified licensees will extend to individuals, partnerships, corporations, business trusts etc., and applicants will no longer be required to be qualified patients.  However, all applicants will be required to pass a background check.  Licenses will not be issued to any applicant who has a felony conviction for controlled substances or any violent crimes.

SB 420 Collective Defense shall sunset one year after the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation posts a notice on its website that licenses are being issued.  After that date, all medical cannabis collectives must be licensed.  Individual qualified patients will be exempt from the state regulations, and will be able to cultivate medical marijuana on their own behalf if the area is less than 100 square feet and is solely for personal use.

In New California Medical Marijuana Regulations – Part Two, we will provide a A more detailed breakdown of the new medical marijuana bills, regulatory conditions, and restrictions.If you would like assistance in navigating California medical marijuana regulations and in particular if you live in Sonoma County, Mendocino County, or Lake County California, please contact the Santa Rosa medical cannabis attorneys at Beck Law P.C.


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