The primary statute for cannabis businesses is in the Business and Professions Code. The Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) is called the Medicinal and Adult-Use. MAUCRSA sets up a fundamental framework for licensing, management, and enforcement related to cannabis businesses.
In addition to cannabis-specific laws, cannabis businesses also have to obey the same regulations that other businesses in California must observe.
Some statutes set regulations for individuals using cannabis in California. The Health and Safety Code has a portion on cannabis with:
- Rules to stop people under age 21 from obtaining cannabis
- Restrictions on how much cannabis a person can carry at a time
- Requirements for medical cannabis
What Is the Punishment for Selling to Minors?
California Health and Safety Code 11361 HS makes it a felony for any person 18 years or older to sell marijuana to a minor. This regulation is not affected by marijuana legalization.
Section 11361 additionally makes it a felony to use a minor illegally to:
- Give away,
- Prepare for sale, or
Any amount or type of marijuana.
Sentences for breaching California Health and Safety Code 11361 are served in California state prison rather than county jail.
If the minor involved is under 14 years of age, the penalty is:
- Three, five, or seven years in state prison.
If the minor is over 14 but less than 18, the penalty is:
- Three, four, or five years in state prison.
Operation and Location Regulations
In addition, all medical marijuana dispensaries must remain in compliance with the following regulations:
- Pay all tax obligations to the City.
- Operate only between 10 am to 8 pm.
- Prohibit the consumption of marijuana or alcohol on the premises.
- Refuse to allow unaccompanied minors to enter.
- Provide no outside lighting of the shop when closed, except to provide for the shop’s security and the public.
- Maintain no public entrance facing or sharing a corner with residentially zoned land unless there is sufficient distance.
- Register the names of all managers to the City Clerk, and each manager must pass an annual fingerprint check by January 31st of each year.
- Managers must not manage another medical marijuana business.
- No marijuana dispensary is allowed within 1,000 feet of a school.
- No marijuana dispensary is allowed within a 600-foot radius of a public park, library, religious institution, child care facility, youth center, alcoholism, drug abuse recovery or treatment facility, or another medical marijuana business.
- Any medical marijuana dispensary that fails to comply with all regulations is prohibited from operating and may be subject to civil and criminal penalties.
What Are the Civil and Criminal Penalties for Non-Compliance?
There are two types of penalties a dispensary can face for non-compliance:
- Criminal Misdemeanors: First, violation of any listed regulations or requirements is considered a misdemeanor. Violators may be subject to a $1,000 fine and six months imprisonment for each day they violate any offense.
- Civil Public Nuisance: In addition, non-compliant dispensaries may be subject to civil public nuisance lawsuits. They may be liable for their nuisance activity for up to $2,500 a day.
Who Is Liable for a Medical Marijuana Dispensary Offense?
In addition to the owners and operators of medical marijuana dispensaries, other individuals who permit or assist the unlicensed operation of medical marijuana dispensaries may also be subject to civil and criminal penalties.
These individuals include all medical marijuana dispensaries:
- Mortgage and lending institutions
What Are Federal Marijuana Laws?
Both the possession and distribution of marijuana are prohibited under federal laws on marijuana, specifically, the Controlled Substances Act. Federal law makes it unlawful to use, keep, grow, and sell marijuana. There is no exception for the medical or so-called “recreational” use of marijuana in federal law. Possession of even a small amount of marijuana is a federal criminal offense. Simple possession with no intent to distribute is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.
Almost all states and municipalities have legislated laws legalizing the medical or recreational use of marijuana in recent years. Even growing and distributing marijuana is now permitted under state law in certain states. Yet, federal law always prevails if there is a conflict between federal and state law.
The medicinal use of marijuana is allowed in almost all states in the U.S. today. It is lawful to possess and use marijuana for medical and recreational purposes in California.
Typically, federal law enforcement authorities do not prosecute medical or even recreational marijuana use as long as people adhere to California state law and do not sell marijuana across state lines.
In August 2013, during the second term of President Obama, the Department of Justice released a memo that said that the federal government basically would not interfere with states in which laws had been passed to legalize marijuana to be used for whatever reason, medical or otherwise.
What Is a Medical Marijuana Club Card?
While possession, use, and sale of marijuana are still considered illegal under federal law, many states have passed provisions legalizing marijuana use to treat certain medical conditions over the past several years.
To legally purchase medical marijuana in states where it is available, you must first obtain a state-issued medical marijuana card. Every state has a different application process for obtaining a medical marijuana card; however, all states require a signed recommendation from a licensed physician stating that you have a qualifying condition and that marijuana would help treat that condition.
A valid marijuana medical card allows the purchase of marijuana and marijuana products such as cannabis oil and marijuana edibles. In addition, generally, states allow patients with a medical marijuana card to grow their own marijuana plants for personal use. States vary widely regarding the amount of marijuana purchased or grown with a medical marijuana card. If you have questions about your state’s medical marijuana policy, consult the state health services website or contact a skilled medical marijuana attorney.
What Are Medical Marijuana Laws?
Medical cannabis was made legal by voter approval of Proposition 215. It is known as California’s Compassionate Use Act of 1996 (the “CUA”). The CUA is outlined in California Health and Safety code 11362.5 HS and the following sections.
Proposition 64, legalizing recreational marijuana, was passed two decades later. Although recreational marijuana is legal, California’s medical marijuana laws and systems are still in place for public health.
First, the strict quantity limits applicable to recreational marijuana do not apply. Medical marijuana users can, with a physician’s recommendation, have as much marijuana as their condition reasonably demands for medical reasons.
Further, individuals under 21 may use and cultivate medical marijuana with a physician’s recommendation (and, if they’re under 18, the consent of a parent).
Who Can Legally Use Medical Marijuana?
Per the CUA, a qualified patient is legally authorized to a medical marijuana identification card if a physician has recommended it or approved it for the treatment of a severe medical ailment such as:
- Multiple sclerosis,
- Persistent muscle spasms,
- Seizures, or
- Any other serious condition, including chronic pain or severe nausea.
What If I Have a Medical Marijuana Dispensary Issue?
Suppose you own, operate, or are associated with a medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles. In that case, you should contact an experienced Los Angeles drug lawyer to ensure you comply with city and state laws.