Do you have questions about the legal and business issues for medical marijuana collectives and cooperatives in California?We're here to help managers and owners of medical marijuana collectives comply with the California marijuana laws and establish good business practices in order to minimize risks and chances of falling victim to expensive and often traumatic criminal prosecution:
- We provide advice for potential operators and managers who want to become involved with medical marijuana but are unaware of the inevitable and significant risks.
- We help clients to better understand why any possession and distribution of medical marijuana continues to be illegal federally and often severely punished under federal law.
- Understand why it is very challenging to establish a well-managed collective in compliance with the California law.
- Find out why even the most responsible and best run collectives too-frequently face unyielding opposition from state and local authorities.
For a free consultation - please complete the contact form to the right, or give us a call.
Collectives and Cooperatives The Law Offices of Jacek W. Lentz have assembled a team of experienced and dedicated attorneys and experts to become a premiere full-service, one-stop shop law firm for all legal and business needs for medical marijuana collectives and cooperatives throughout California. As a responsible, community and safety-oriented criminal defense law firm, our main objective is to help managers and owners of medical marijuana collectives comply with the California marijuana laws and establish good business practices in order to minimize risks and chances of falling victim to expensive and often traumatic criminal prosecution. We also provide advice and counseling - often advising against the idea of starting a collective - to those who are planning to get a start in this rather uncertain and risky enterprise. A great number of potential operators and managers who want to become involved with medical marijuana are unaware of the inevitable and significant risks. Too many do not truly comprehend the fact that any possession and distribution of medical marijuana continues to be illegal federally and often severely punished under federal law, and that it is very challenging to establish a well-managed collective in compliance with the California law. Even the most responsible and best run collectives too-frequently face unyielding opposition from state and local authorities. The day when all local and state police agencies and prosecutors (not to mention federal authorities) have accepted the will and the resounding voice of California voters - who overwhelmingly continue to approve the right to safe access to medical marijuana for legitimate needs of hundreds of thousands of patients - has not yet arrived.
Medical marijuana collectives are sometimes referred to as medical marijuana or cannabis cooperatives, dispensaries, buyers' clubs or centers. We recommend the use of the term "medical marijuana collective" or "medical marijuana cooperative" because California state law makes no mention of dispensaries or clubs. Rather, in a single brief provision under California Health & Safety Code §11362.775, the law gives qualified patients and primary caregivers - who associate "collectively or cooperatively" in not-for-profit operations - the right to cultivate medical marijuana to meet their collective medicinal needs. Accordingly, an entity engaged in cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana legally under California law should be legally organized and formed either as a collective or cooperative. Regardless which of the two forms is chosen, the collective or cooperative must implement proper business practices to ensure a tightly controlled closed-circuit structure of member patients and caregivers who cultivate and provide medical marijuana exclusively for and among themselves. Without proper structure, a collective or cooperative cannot comply with California law and inevitably faces greatly increased risk of being prosecuted and shut down. Our experience demonstrates that vast majority of collectives and cooperatives falls short of full legal compliance, with individuals who directly engage in cultivation and transportation of medical marijuana often facing the greatest risks.
Whether you are presently involved in operating an existing medical marijuana collective, or are thinking about becoming involved, we urge you to be responsible and vigilant. Do your homework in learning everything you can and do not hesitate to call our office if you have any questions or concerns. We also encourage you to call us for a free consultation to see if your organization would benefit from a more comprehensive review of your unique situation to ensure that your efforts to provide a valuable service to your patients are as responsible and safe as possible. If you are an existing or potential manager or operator of a medical marijuana collective, The Law Offices of Jacek W. Lentz is the right source of advice for you.
Below, we have outlined the most important legal and business issues your must consider and review in order to ensure the security and safety of your cooperative and its members.
Business Form and Model. One of the key decisions to be made is whether the business model of your medical marijuana collective will be a pharmacy-style dispensary devoted exclusively to distributing medical marijuana, a growers' collective or a full service collective providing a greater variety of services to your member patients and caregivers. You will also need to organize and register your organization under a carefully selected legal business form. While it is not legally required that you choose a particular business form, and your choice should take into account your unique business plan, we often recommend California Nonprofit Mutual Benefit Corporation as the best legal form offering unique advantages to operating a medical marijuana collective.
Location. The well known imperative of - location, location, location! - is absolutely key when to comes to opening medical marijuana collectives. Before any other legal or business issues are considered, the fundamental question is whether the city or county in which you are operating or planning to operate has in place a ban, a moratorium or a regulating ordinance which will impact whether the success of your cooperative is likely or even possible at all. If no local ordinances are presently in place, for example, such as prohibiting operation of medical cannabis collectives near sensitive use areas like parks, schools, churches or rehabilitation centers, you need to anticipate and plan for potential future regulations.
Zoning and Permit Regulations. Zoning regulations present an additional layer of regulations which a legally compliant medical marijuana collective must meet. The local zoning codes designating specific areas as strictly residential, retail, office, commercial or industrial will determine where your collective will be allowed to operate. Your due diligence in this area might require you to engage in discussions with the zoning department or even take physical measurements if zoning codes provide that a collective may not operate within a specified distance from certain sensitive use areas. Also, providing different services in additional to medical marijuana, such as for example food or massage, might require you to submit to inspections and seek permits from the local police or health department.
Leases And Landlords. Arguably, your relationship with your landlord constitutes is the single most important business relationship you will enter into and will need to cultivate in order to operate a medical cannabis collective. How you get along with, and how you negotiate and structure your commercial lease with your landlord, will determine your long term success or failure. We strongly recommend that your landlord is knowledgeable about and is supportive of your collective. Further, we cannot overemphasize the need to have your lease drafted or reviewed by your own lawyer.
Business Plan. All of the major decisions and challenges facing your medical marijuana collective should be incorporated into a working business plan at the very start of your planning. The viability and success of your collective will depend upon how well you anticipate critical business issues such as capitalization, cash flow and budgetary planning. Planning for taxes - income, local, payroll and sales - is also very important.
Good Business And Neighbor Practices. As part of your business plan, your medical marijuana collective should have a plan for nourishing a positive relationship with your community. It is paramount that the collective take necessary steps to convince the community and the law enforcement that it is a credible and legal organization involved in a legitimate mission to provide a valuable and compassionate service for patients in need. Carrying out your valuable work with integrity and in discreet and professional manner will go a long way towards preventing hostile neighbors. All too often, medical marijuana collectives create unnecessary legal problems by not taking care of their neighbors' often simple and legitimate concerns. As a collective manager or operator you must also anticipate that some day your neighbors will be speaking either for you or against you in hearings in front of the planning or other local commission or board.
Safety And Security. To succeed, your collective must operate in a safe and secure manner. You will need to ensure that medical marijuana is not stolen or diverted for non-medical use. You will need the appropriate technology and training and education encompassing all the members of the collective as well as your well-trained professional staff.