Understanding State and Local Laws
Medical cannabis laws vary from state to state, and in some cases, may vary from city to city or county to county. In states that allow patient cultivation, patients can select a caregiver to provide medical cannabis as well as accessing medical cannabis distribution centers. In states that do not allow patient cultivation, state-regulated distribution is the only legal sources of cannabis. And sometimes, individuals choose to break outdated laws in states that do not account for medical use or safe access. No matter what state you are living in, medical cannabis patients and their providers are always violating federal law. The map below outlines laws and regulations for providing medical cannabis in each state.
Authorized medical cannabis distribution may be regulated by state laws, local ordinances, or other regulations. You will have to determine what jurisdiction governs the place where you want to provide or cultivate medicine, and then figure out what laws apply to you. Most cities and counties have free publications and online resources for new businesses. Use these to find out if you need a zoning permit, business license, tax certificate, fire department clearance, or any one of several local requirements. Be careful to obey all state and local business regulations. Medical cannabis providers have enough to deal with without extra trouble for breaking simple business laws!
Some jurisdictions have bans or moratoria (temporary bans) blocking the establishment of medical cannabis dispensaries. You may also encounter a 'de facto ban' - a situation in which the jurisdiction has no written policy prohibiting medical cannabis businesses, but blocks their establishment by denying business licenses, police intimidation, or other tactics. If this is the case in your community, you will need to invest some time and money up front advocating for a change in local policy. ASA can help you be an effective advocate. Use tools like the ASA Policy Shop, Training Center, and other resources to help you change your local law or policy. Contact ASA at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (510) 251-1856 for help.
In This Section
Every state has varying laws and regulations for caregivers, cultivators and medical cannabis providers. This section includes an overview of state requirements and links to necessary forms and applications.