Medical Marijuana Collective
& Cooperative Attorneys
Proposition 215 provides individuals limited immunity from criminal prosecution for personal cultivation and possession of medical marijuana. Yet, the expertise, time, and initial investment required to cultivate medical-grade marijuana is demanding, exhaustive, and expensive. These obstacles have dissuaded qualified patients from enacting their rights.
In 2003, the California Senate for the first time provided patients collective and cooperative protections if they delegated their rights to a group. However, the Senate did not define a structured way for individuals to delegate these rights or to obtain medical marijuana outside personal cultivation.
In 2008, California Attorney General Edmond Brown issued guidelines on the proper function of Medical Marijuana Collectives or Cooperatives. Pursuant to the Attorney General’s guidelines, patients and/or caregivers may associate collectively to provide medical marijuana to each other. In order to associate collectively, one must be a non-profit collective or cooperative. To operate as a non-profit, these organizations require recognition by the Secretary of State.
Medical Marijuana Collective
A medical marijuana collective is a group of qualified patients or caregivers who share or are motivated in a common interest. Often the common interest is the production and transfer of medical marijuana amongst the group. Collectives will also democratically share and exercise political and social power between their members. Collectives differ from cooperatives in that they are not necessarily focused on the production or transfer of medical marijuana.
Medical Marijuana Agricultural Cooperative
Medical marijuana agricultural cooperatives are widespread in rural areas of Northern California. Agricultural cooperatives are often divided into either supply or marketing cooperatives. The complex nature of medical marijuana laws requires medical marijuana cooperatives to function as both.
Medical Marijuana Cooperatives are non-profit organizations that are created by cultivators, an aggregate group of patients, or both to provide medical-grade marijuana to qualified patients.
Just like non-profit collectives, medical marijuana agricultural cooperatives are State recognized legal entities that are democratically controlled by their members. Unlike Collectives, all directors of cooperatives must cultivate or be producers.
Cooperatives will often share their earnings with the membership as dividends, which are divided among the members according to their participation in the enterprise. However, all distribution to members must only reimburse those members for their costs in producing medical-grade marijuana for patients.
Our office provides legal consulting in obtaining state recognition for Medical Marijuana Collectives and Medical Marijuana Agricultural Cooperatives.
Starting a Collective or Cooperative
Step I. Form and Model
A key decision you must make is the non-profit model your medical marijuana organization will follow. You can operate as 1) a pharmacy-like organization devoted exclusively to distributing medical marijuana, 2) a Growers Cooperative that will provide medical marijuana directly to patients, or 3) a full service Collective that provides a variety of benefits to your patients and caregiver members. You will also need to construct and register your organization under a carefully selected legal business form, which should take into account your particular business model. Our office has experience in establishing State recognized medical marijuana collectives, medical marijuana agricultural cooperatives, and medical marijuana consumer cooperatives. Our clients can expect the organizations we form to not only take into consideration the group’s mission statement but to also utilize the best wording to assure that your organization will be more likely to achieve Federal and State tax exempt status.
Step II. Location and Licensing
Location, Location, Location! It is imperative that you know whether the city or county in which you operate or are planning to operate will allow you to operate at all. If there are local ordinances, you will likely require a license. If there are no local ordinances, you need to plan for potential future regulations or to submit a conditional use permit to City or County planning departments. Conditional use permit proceedings often require the submission of an application and a hearing where the collective or cooperative must attend in person and request that the City Council or County Planning department allow them to operate. Our office has assisted collectives and cooperatives in achieving their licensing and conditional use permits in local cities and unincorporated areas.
Step III. Leases and Landlords
Your relationship with your landlord begins with the protections assured your collective or cooperative in the lease. If your lease lacks specific and important provisions, you and your members can easily find yourselves without a home. How you negotiate and structure you commercial lease will determine your success or failure.
Aside from the lease, it is important that your landlord is supportive of your collective.
If you or your collective or cooperative have any questions regarding the operation or function of these organizations under the law, please feel free to call or e-mail our offices or contact us via our contact page.