"How can we take into account precisely what is perhaps the most dramatic legal disparities in medical cannabis thus far? The issue of non-profit ""sale"" of medical cannabis to qualified patients via collectives and cooperatives. There's nothing else this way dispute. What do experts say about this anyway?
Steve Cooley, The Los Angeles District Attorney, disagrees with Jerry Brown, the California State Attorney General.
How could two prominent state-employed attorneys arrive at wholly different conclusions on the answer? First the Los Angeles District Attorney claims ""all sales are illegal"". The California State Attorney General was sure enough to publish in the guidelines that ""storefront collectives might be legal under state guiidelines"". How could this be? After all, each attorney is looking with the same task, right?
So what's the answer? What does regulations say?
COMPASSIONATE-USE ACT 1996
Proposition 215 that was approved by a most of Californians in 1996 and it became called the Compassionate-Use Act. The statute itself doesn't say anything about ""sales"" however it does speak about ""possession"", ""cultivating"", obtaining medical cannabis, about affordability and ""distribution"".
It does claim that qualified patients and their primary caregivers will never be victim to criminal issues:
""(B) To ensure that patients and their primary caregivers who obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes upon counsel of a physician are not subject to criminal prosecution or sanction.""
And additionally, it pushes governments to assist ensure ""safe and affordable access"" to medical cannabis for ""all qualified patients"".
""(C) To encourage the federal and state governments to implement a strategy for that safe and affordable distribution of marijuana to any or all patients in medical necessity of marijuana.""
The Los Angeles District Attorney, Steve Cooley, had State and Federal police officers agents raid a medical cannabis collective and arrest a minimum of 3 people, the week before Christmas. He insists ""all sales are illegal"". This is apparently contrary to the letter and spirit of legislation, not the mention the spirit of the season.
Also if all ""sales"" are illegal, why does the Compassionate-Use Act say ""affordable""? If the patients are financially responsible for the cannabis, what makes Cooley expect the currency to get exchanged? What's wrong with incremental reimbursements?
MEDICAL MARIJUANA PROGRAM OF 2004
The Medical Marijuana Program (MMP) got into law in 2004 with the legislative approval of Senate Bill 420. It was the state's attempt ""to implement a strategy for your safe and affordable distribution of marijuana to any or all patients in medical demand for marijuana,"" since the Compassionate-Use Act of 1996 (Prop 215) encourages the State and Federal government to accomplish.
The MMP improves access to medical cannabis for qualified patients by approving collectives and cooperatives.
""(3) Enhance the access of patients and caregivers to medical marijuana through collective, cooperative cultivation projects.""
What Steve Cooley doesn't appear to understand is non-profit storefront Medical Cannabis Dispensing Collectives/Cooperatives will be the distribution part of ""cultivation projects"". Just like a collective cultivation farm wouldn't have customers come to the farm to obtain their tomatoes, they'd have to get their collective tomatoes in a farmer's market or non medication depression treatment san carlos distribution location-- that's how medical cannabis collective cultivations occur. Grown in a single location for safety and also other reasons, then distributed at another location.
The MMP goes on to talk about every one of the criminal statutes that qualified patients and primary caregivers are exempt from. In section 11362.765, it says: ""shall not subject, on that sole basis, to criminal liability under Section 11357, 11358, 11359, 11360, 11366, 11366.5, or 11570.""
Let's have a look at each of these one at a time:
11359: [possession for sale],
11360: [""transports, imports into this state, sells, furnishes, administers, or gives away""- or purports to or attempts to complete any of those],
11366: [Every one who opens or maintains any place for your purpose of unlawfully selling, offering, or using any controlled substance]
11366.5 [Managing a place for manufacture, storage and/or the distribution of the controlled substance]
11570 [Every building or place used for your function of unlawfully selling, serving, storing, keeping, manufacturing, or giving out any controlled substance, precursor, or analog per this division, every building or place wherein or where those acts take place, is a nuisance which shall be enjoined, abated, and prevented, and then for which damages might be recovered, whether it can be a public or private nuisance.]
The Health and Safety Code section 11360 specifically says ""sells"". Not only that, in addition, it says: ""gives away"" and ""furnishes"". How come the LA District Attorney's office says ""all sales are illegal"" and non-profit storefront medical cannabis dispensing collectives/cooperatives are banned?
In that same bill,
""11362.775. Qualified patients, persons with valid identification cards, and the designated primary caregivers of qualified patients and persons with identification cards, who associate inside State of California to be able collectively or cooperatively to grow marijuana for medical purposes, shall not solely for the basis of that fact be at the mercy of state criminal sanctions under Section 11357, 11358, 11359, 11360, 11366, 11366.5, or 11570.""
Again, it says that patients can collectively cultivate cannabis and distribute it amongst themselves for non-profit. Again, the distribution of medical cannabis is outside of the cultivation the same as the manufacturing of my vicodin can be found outside of my pharmacy.
The Medical Marijuana Act also calls about the State Attorney General to deliver guidelines related to medical cannabis:
""The bill would require Attorney General to build up and adopt guidelines to ensure the security and non-diversion of marijuana grown for medical use, as specified.""
And that what exactly State Attorney General, Jerry Brown did within the late summer of 2008.
GUIDELINES FOR THE SECURITY AND NON-DIVERSION OF MARIJUANA GROWN FOR MEDICAL USE August 2008
To fulfill his mandate, the State Attorney General release these tips to aid law enforcements do their jobs as outlined by State law and to aid patients understand those laws.
The guidelines state non-profit storefront Medical Cannabis Dispensing Collectives and Cooperatives might be legal under state guiidelines when they followed the guidelines along with the above laws.
""It could be the opinion with this Office a properly organized and operated collective or cooperative that dispenses medical marijuana by way of a storefront may be lawful under California law""
The State Attorney General confirms what regulations says. The Attorney General may be the highest-ranking legal employee in the State of California. His office also replied to the difficulties raised in Los Angeles by City Attorney's office.
According towards the New York Times on October 17: Christine Gasparac, a spokeswoman for State Attorney General Jerry Brown, declared after Mr. Trutanich's comments in Los Angeles, law enforcement officials officials and advocates from across the state had called seeking clarity on medical cannabis laws.
Mr. Brown has issued legal guidelines that allow for nonprofit sales of medical cannabis, she said. But, she added, with laws being interpreted differently, ""the final answer may ultimately come from the courts.""
So what can the courts say?
PEOPLE v. MENTCH
The District Attorney's office would have you believe the Mentch decision outlaws non-profit storefront Medical Cannabis Dispensing Collectives/Cooperatives and makes ""all sales illegal"" but that decision has to perform with the definition of ""primary caregiver"" not sales.
Mentch had 82 marijuana plants growing in his home and the man sold the medicine to people that found his home with the primary function of buying cannabis. The most of the plants in Mentch's home belonged to him while he testified. Their operations has not been a collective or perhaps a cooperative nor a store. Mentch owned Hemporium, a for-profit care giving and consultancy business, not a non-profit collective or perhaps a cooperative.
Based over evidence the courts figured that Mentch's operation was primarily a for-profit commercial venture and the man wasn't a primary caregiver for all those he supplied medical cannabis to from his home-based business. I've written about this in depth here.
So there you have just what the courts say, exactly what the State Attorney says, and just what the laws say; all confirm non-profit storefront dispensing of medical cannabis could be legal under State law.
Now the Los Angeles District Attorney must obey regulations and also the will from the people and stop wasting time and resources to hurt medical cannabis patients especially just before Christmas. Especially when you can find over 7,000 untested rape kits how the District Attorney says he will donrrrt you have the resources to handle.