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State Cannabis Laws

Preface

Greenbridge Corporate Counsel exists to make premium legal services accessible to environmentally conscious and politically progressive companies, and it is our intention to provide information that will help social enterprises comply with the law and act as good corporate citizens. Greenbridge counsels social entrepreneurs risking their own security to engage in daily civil disobedience of laws prohibiting the distribution of medical cannabis to patients in need or the cultivation of industrial hemp for environmentally sustainable biofuels and other products. We believe that those who engage in such civil disobedience have the same right to competent business counsel as others take for granted.

It is important to note that state criminal laws regarding cannabis coexist with medical cannabis laws, which can provide defenses or exemptions to criminal prosecution when dutifully observed.  The following list in no way is intended to imply that federal or state criminal sanctions for cannabis no longer apply.

This legal resources page is intended to provide general information about legal matters, and is not legal advice. Greenbridge Corporate Counsel makes no representations in relation to the legal information on this website, including whether it is complete, accurate, or up-to-date. The information on this page is not a substitute for legal advice from your attorney. The information presented on this site should not be construed to be the formation of a lawyer-client relationship.

Additionally, under federal law cannabis is a Schedule I controlled substance that is illegal to grow, sell, or possess (Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. §§ 801-971). This page should never be considered to counsel any person or entity to violate federal law.

California

The Compassionate Use Act of 1996, California Health & Safety Code Sec. 11362.5 (Proposition 215), is the first medical marijuana law in the country, enacted by the voters of California to "ensure that seriously ill Californians have the right to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes where that medical use is deemed appropriate and has been recommended by a physician" (California Health & Safety Code § 11362.5(b)(1)(A)).

The Medical Marijuana Program Act, California Health & Safety Code Sec. 11362.7 (Senate Bill 420), was passed in 2003 and established the Medical Marijuana Program to be run by the California Department of Public Health. This extension and clarification of the Compassionate Use Act was passed to, in part, "[e]nhance the access of patients and caregivers to medical marijuana through collective, cooperative cultivation projects” (S.B. 420 § 1(b)(3)). California law allows patients and primary caregivers to “associate within the State of California in order collectively or cooperatively to cultivate marijuana for medical purposes” (California Health & Safety Code § 11362.775).

The Attorney General has provided guidelines to help residents comply with the Health & Safety Code.

Colorado

The Medical Use of Marijuana Act, Colorado Revised Statutes Sec. 18-18-406.3 (Amendment 20), is an amendment to the Colorado Constitution passed by voters in 2000, allowing for the medical use of marijuana as well as establishing the Medical Marijuana Registry and assigning responsibility of administering the medical marijuana program to the Department of Public Health and Environment (Colorado Revised Statutes §§ 18-18-406.3(1)(c)-(d)).

The Colorado Medical Marijuana Code, Colorado Revised Statutes Sec. 12-43.3, gives the State Medical Marijuana Licensing Authority the ability to promulgate rules governing cannabis cultivation and the operation of “medical marijuana centers.” The Colorado Department of Revenue runs the Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division, in charge of the execution of these rules.

Amendment 64, Use and Regulation of Marijuana, is an amendment to the Colorado constitution passed in 2012, "providing for the regulation of marijuana" and "permitting a person twenty-one years of age or older to consume or possess limited amounts of marijuana" (Amendment 64), in addition to providing for facilities licensing and requiring the general assembly to enact industrial hemp legislation.

Washington

The Washington State Medical Use of Cannabis Act, Revised Code of Washington Chapter 69.51A (Initiative 692), was passed by Washington voters in 1998 and is contained in Washington statutes. This Act permits use of medical cannabis in certain cases, as well as allowing for “collective gardens” of up to ten patients, among other restrictions (Washington State Legislature, Chapter 69.51A.085 Revised Code of Washington, Medical Cannabis).

Initiative 502 ("I-502") is a Washington state ballot initiative passed by Washington voters in the November 2012 general election to "license and regulate marijuana production, distribution, and possession for persons over twenty-one; remove state-law criminal and civil penalties for activities that it authorizes; tax marijuana sales; and earmark marijuana-related revenues" (From the description of I-502 by the Office of the Attorney General of Washington). I-502 does not change Washington’s medical cannabis law.