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In this Wednesday, March 6, 2019 photo, Korbin Osborn, left, works as a cannabis adviser at a medical marijuana dispensary in Santa Fe, N.M. New Mexico took a step toward legalizing recreational marijuana when its House approved a bill that would allow state-run stores and require customers to carry a receipt with their cannabis or face penalties. The measure, narrowly approved Thursday, March 7, 2019, following a late-night floor debate, mixes major provisions of a Republican-backed Senate bill that emphasizes aggressive regulation with a draft by Democrats concerned about the U.S. war on drugs. (AP Photo/Morgan Lee)


In 2015, the Californian State Legislature passed AB 266 and Prop 64 was passed in November 8, 2016, authorizing  licensing to provide marijuana/cannabis to adults over 21 for profit and taxation. This will replace the marijuana/ cannabis laws of Senate Bill 420 when licensing takes effect in 2018 and beyond. See pages 29-34. 

Dispensaries, are now subject to new regulations by cities and counties, since the State of California started issuing  licenses in 2018. At this time previous statues pertaining to “medical marijuana dispensaries” have been replaced and  will now be regulated under the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA), subject to  local regulations by cities and counties regarding licensing and banning cultivation.  

Dispensaries are permissible only if the local city or county allow them through their legislation or initiatives. However,  non-compliance with local ordinances is a not a bar for a collective cannabis defense under state law. (See People V. Ahmed First Appellate  District, Division Three Case Number: A149066) (June 20th, 2018) (Also See 11362.775 H&S) . However, Prop 215, Compassionate Use Act,  will remain in effect and allow patients and their caregivers to grow amounts that are reasonably necessary for their current medical  needs. 

In August 2008, Jerry Brown reiterated the Attorney General’s office’s opinion stating that properly organized collectives or  cooperatives dispensing medical marijuana through storefront locations may be lawful. However, this is subject to local legislation.  Refer to my website, 420laws.com for the Attorney General’s Guidelines for Security and Non Diversion of Marijuana Grown for  Medical Use.  

The 2005 Attorney General’s Guidelines had limited that patient’s collectives and co-ops may provide marijuana under the  following: (1) it is free to its members; (2) it is provided in exchange for services provided by members; and (3) it is provided for fees  based on costs for overhead and operating expenses.  

SB 420 “contemplates the formation and operation of medical marijuana cooperatives and collectives that would receive  reimbursement for marijuana and the services provided in conjunction with the provision of that marijuana.” Patient cooperatives  or collectives may cultivate and dispense marijuana to their member patients. Refer to People v. Urziceanu 132 Cal App. 4th 747. 

There are hundred of organizations currently dispensing medical marijuana in California. Many are conforming to required local  regulations, while others are not. Many are being tolerated because they meet the needs of patients and are careful to exclusively  provide marijuana to them.  

Note from Bruce: Currently, the Los Angeles City Department of Cannabis Regulation allows for the licensing of retail marijuana  businesses for patient and adult use. 


Note from Bruce: My office continues to defend collectives and dispensaries and participants, including bud-tenders and landlords.  For more information regarding local legislation (including LA’s current Prop M), and dispensary licensing, please contact my office. 

A medical marijuana cooperative, collective, dispensary, or provider who possesses, cultivates, or distributes medical  marijuana and has a storefront or mobile retail outlet that ordinarily requires a local business license, pursuant to this article,  cannot be located within a 600 foot radius of a religious institution, public park, school, etc. (Local regulation may differ and  require more distance.)