How to Open a Dispensary in California - The Medical Marijuana Program Act (MMP)

Posted by Raoul Severo | Aug 25, 2020 | 0 Comments

Twenty-four years ago, California became the first among all of 50 states in America to constitutionalize the use of marijuana for medical motives. Since then, several statutes have been published by the state, which only intensified the already strict and ambiguous regulations surrounding medical marijuana. One of the initial legislations was the Medical Marijuana Program Act. The MMP is considered the first comprehensive act that discussed the right of MJ dispensaries to the collaborative planting of medical marijuana. Furthermore, the law requires patients and health workers to register for a state-wide ID system where it will allow the government to easily identify individuals who need marijuana for medical grounds and individuals who do not. Once the individual is qualified, they will be absolved from legal penalties.

Meanwhile, note that marijuana cooperatives can only be deemed legal if:

  • It identifies itself as a non-profit organization;
  • It obtains the necessary licenses and permits that are approved by the local government;
  • It fulfills the requirements outlined by the California Environmental Quality Act; and
  • It maintains a positive relationship with law enforcement.

These are only the bare minimum of what marijuana dispensaries are expected to do to be constitutional in California. Your local community will still have the last say of whether your dispensary is permissible or not. It is highly advised to consult with an attorney before making any decisions.

Other Relevant Laws Pertaining to Marijuana Dispensaries in California

Opening a marijuana dispensary is such a risky venture -- legally speaking. In fact, even if you feel like you've got everything nailed down, you can still be susceptible to legal prosecution. This is especially due to the fact that while it is acceptable in California, federal law still prohibits MJ use and dissemination. But there are tips to remember so you can be safer, especially if you really want to pursue a dispensary. Familiarize yourself with the following jurisprudences:

  • The Compassionate Use Act 
  • The Medical and Adult Use of Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act
  • Health and Safety Code sections 11367-11362.9
  • Business and Professions Code sections 26000-26250
  • Controlled Substances Act

Opening a Dispensary in California 2020

The precautionary steps that a dispensary owner have to endure may seem overwhelming, but there's no stopping you from opening one -- if done legally and properly, of course. 

First, like any other business, you must prepare a business plan. Outline the nature of your firm, the procedures, your potential clients, your niche, your finances, and everything necessary. This will help you get a broader view of how your company will perform. If you're not exactly sure how to draft one, you may hire an experienced businessman on your behalf. After that, you need to obtain consent from your local and state government. This is the part where you'll be presenting your outline to concerned officials and prove to them that your venture will be law-abiding. If they give you the go signal, you may proceed to the next step which is to process your requirements. You might have to research thoroughly on this one as documents differ from place to place. Most importantly, remember that your community is not legally obliged to allow your firm to operate, even when you follow every protocol. 

Nevertheless, this procedure will help you lessen the possibility of being tailgated by the law in your every move. When push comes to shove, it is your duty to make sure that your dispensary does not violate any of California's laws.

Penalties for Violating California Marijuana Laws

There are several ways people violate the state's MJ laws. For example, managing a “for profit” cannabis dispensary is an infringement of The Medical Marijuana Program Act. With that said, there are also different prosecutions for each legislation concerning cannabis. If a person is caught selling marijuana without a permit or license, he/she will face the following punishments:

  • Serve 6 months in county jail
  • Pay a fine of $1,000 at maximum

Again, penalties are relative for each unique case of offense against California laws. They may overlap each other and be added on top of one punishment (i.e.: a person under 21 is caught selling marijuana without permit). It is best to speak with a knowledgeable attorney for this matter.

Legal Defense

The topic of marijuana, in general, is controversial in itself alone. It is mixed with so many legal and ethical issues that it is often best to leave unexplored. However, if you do brush up against the law for activities involving the substance, immediately consult with an attorney in California. In fact, even if you haven't or you're just interested on the subject, studying these laws by yourself will often lead to more confusion rather than comprehension. Hence, it is highly recommended to meet with your lawyer so they will be able to discuss these regulations more thoroughly. In case you dont have one, at the Law Office of Raoul Severo will get the proper guidance.

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