Every day at our firm we consult with clients interested in cultivating medical cannabis while complying with all applicable laws that govern cannabis cultivation. More often than not what they specifically wish to ascertain is the limits by which they are allowed to cultivate marijuana in the State of California. The simple answer is given to us by the 2004 State Bill 420, which provides us with the 6 mature plants limit per valid recommendation or 12 immature. This is the only real limit that has ever been set on a statewide level. To this response most of our clients bring up the growers exemption or growers recommendation. This exemption is a reflection of the holding of a personal possession case that reached the California Supreme Court, People v. Kelly. In Kelly the court decided that the Compassionate Use Act authorized a doctor to recommend the therapeutically necessary amount of cannabis to meet a patient’s medical needs, was in conflict with SB420, which placed strict possession limits on patients participating in the Medical Marijuana Program. The court therefore found that the personal possession limits we not allowable and instead a doctor’s recommendation would be used to determine personal need. The finding in this case led to what is today known as the grower exempted recommendation which unofficially authorizes a patient to grow as many as 99 plants for personal use.
There is just one big problem with this interpretation of the law. Nowhere in this holding does it ever mention collectives, dispensaries or cooperatives. Thus, the next question that is consistently asked is, “if me and my friends each have an exempted recommendation, can we each grow 99 plants in a facility together? The answer is, “only if the marijuana produced is for personal consumption to meet an exaggerated medical need.” This response is not what people interested in lawfully cultivating medicinal cannabis are are looking for. Most are looking for a practical way to provide safe access, for in-need patients, to a strong clean product at a fair price. There unfortunately is no overlap to these interpretations of the law. If you want to participate in collective or cooperative activities; you as a provider are under much different requirements. For example when growing for one’s personal possession, there are no sales and thus no profit. For medical marijuana produced for a collective there almost always is at least one sale involved meaning that the entire operation must operate as a non-profit and must adhere to the requirements of non-profit collectives which again is 6 mature plants per valid recommendation. In addition many regions and local municipalities have site restrictions that limit the number, location and manner in which plants may be grown.
This discussion is sometimes confusing and disconcerting for a first-time client who is new to this industry. However, our team at MJ Legal brings a holistic approach to working with our clients which allows us to assist them with navigating even the most complicated of bureaucratic issues that plague this industry in California. If you are interested in learning more about medical cannabis cultivation in the State of California, please contact our office to set up an appointment.