California State Legislation Governing Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
In 1996, the state of California passed the Compassionate Use Act, to ensure that seriously ill Californians have the right to obtain and use cannabis for medical purposes and to encourage elected officials to implement a plan for the safe and affordable distribution of medicine.
In 2003, the California Senate passed SB 420, to help clarify and further implement Proposition 215 in part by authorizing patients and primary caregivers to associate within the State of California in order to collectively or cooperatively cultivate cannabis for medical purposes, and authorized the California Attorney General create guidelines for medical marijuana cultivation, possession and distribution.
State Attorney General, Jerry Brown, then published the attorney general guidelines establishing the collective and cooperative growing and dispensing systems in the state of California.
In 2011, the California State Legislature passed AB 1300, explicitly allowing counties and municipalities adopt and enforce local ordinances that regulate the location, operation, or establishment of medical marijuana cooperative or collectives.
Relevant Court Rulings Regarding the Dispensing of Medical Marijuana in California
In Gonzales v. Raich, the US Supreme Court upheld the right of California to have the statewide legislation generated by the Compassionate Use Act, but stated that the federal agencies were not obliged to give deference to the Compassionate Use Act.
California courts have upheld the legality of compassionate use dispensaries under state law, including in People v. Hochandel, 176 Cal.App.4th 997, and People v. Urziceanu, 132 Cal.App.4th 747.
California courts have ruled that federal law does not preempt municipalities from regulating compassionate use dispensaries under California and local law, including in Qualified Patients Association v. City of Anaheim, 187 Cal.App.4th 997, County of San Diego v. San Diego NORML, 165 Cal.App.4th 798.
On July 3rd, 2012, the Second District Court of Appeal in California issued a landmark decision in County of Los Angeles v. Alternative Medicinal Cannabis Collective (AMCC), which affirmed the legality of medical marijuana dispensaries under state law, and rejected bans imposed by municipalities.
On February 3rd, 2012, the Second District Appeals Court of Appeals in California ruled in the case of People v. Colvin that dispensing collective members are not required to help cultivate their medication, and money could be exchanged for marijuana. The California Supreme Court upheld this decision by refusing to hear it on appeal.