In 1996 California voters passed the landmark Compassionate Use Act which allows individuals to possess or cultivate marijuana for personal medical use if they have the recommendation of a physician.
In 2003 the Medical Marijuana Program Act was passed. The intent of this law was to “enhance the access of patients and caregivers to medical marijuana through collective, cooperative cultivation projects.” The act provided that patients and caregivers may associate “collectively” or “cooperatively” in order to cultivate and deliver medical marijuana to one another.
What is a medical marijuana cooperative or collective?
In the twelve years since the Medical Marijuana Program Act was passed, courts have wrestled with this question.
Courts have generally found that a cooperative/collective is not the same thing as a commune. Not all members have to cultivate marijuana. It’s okay if some members grow it and others buy it. What’s most important is that: (1) only medicinal marijuana patients and caregivers can be members; (2) the marijuana may only be supplied to members; (3) the amount grown must be no more than “reasonably necessary” to meet the medical needs of the members; and (4) any buying and selling must be done on a not-for-profit basis.