Pages tagged "cultivation"

Sample Local Ordinance Licensing Commercial Medical Cannabis Cultivation in Cities and Counties

Click here to download a .pdf copy of this sample ordinance.

This simple draft ordinance authorizes commercial medical cannabis cultivation using the existing city or county business license process and sets some basic security standards for indoor and outdoor cultivation. The ordinance protects staff, operators, and landlords at licensed grows; allows cultivation in commercial and agricultural zones; and exempts individual patients and caregivers from licensing requirements. 


_____ Purposes.

The purposes and intents of this Chapter are to:

a)    Regulate commercial medical cannabis cultivation in a manner that is consistent with State law and which promotes the health, safety, and general welfare of the residents and businesses in <name of local jurisdiction>;

b)   Provide clear guidance to law enforcement, regulators, license holders, and the community at large as to what is legally permitted in <name of local jurisdiction> in relation to commercial medical cannabis cultivation; and

c)    Protect the rights and welfare of Qualified Patients or their designated Primary Caregivers who cultivate medical cannabis for the personal medical use of the Qualified Patient in accordance with the Compassionate Use Act and the Medical Marijuana Program Act.

Nothing in this Chapter shall be construed to allow:

a)    Persons to engage in conduct that endangers others or causes a public nuisance;

b)   The use or diversion of marijuana for nonmedical purposes; or

c)    Any activity relating to the cultivation, distribution or consumption of marijuana that is otherwise illegal under State law.

_____ Findings.

a)    There is a legitimate need for medical cannabis in California. A study published in 2014 shows that 1.4 million Californians have used medical cannabis and an overwhelming majority of those users (92%) believe cannabis helped treat the symptoms of a serious medical condition (“Prevalence of medical marijuana use in California, 2012”, Drug and Alcohol Review (2014), DOI 10.111/dar. 12207).

b)   According to that research, more than 30% used medical cannabis to treat chronic pain, 11% used it for arthritis, 8% for migraines, and 7% for cancer. Participants also reported using medical cannabis to treat the symptoms of AIDS, glaucoma, muscle spasms, nausea, stress, and depression. Researchers found that medical cannabis was used at similar rates by men and women, the young and the old, patients with high and low levels of education, and in various regions of the state.

c)    The voters of the State of California approved Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 (codified as Health and Safety Code Section 11362.5), in 1996. That Act calls on “federal and state governments to implement a plan to provide for the safe and affordable distribution of marijuana to all patients in medical need of marijuana.”

d)   The State enacted the Medical Marijuana Program Act (codified as Health and Safety Code Section 11362.7 et seq.) in 2004 to clarify the scope of The Compassionate Use Act of 1996, facilitate the prompt identification of qualified patients and primary caregivers, avoid unnecessary arrest and prosecution of these individuals, provide needed guidance to law enforcement officers, promote uniform and consistent application of the Act, and to allow local governing bodies to adopt and enforce rules and regulations consistent with the Act.

e)    The State enacted three bills, which comprise the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA), in 2015. AB 243, AB 266, and SB 643, create statewide licensing and regulations for the lawful cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, transportation, sales, and testing of medical cannabis in the state.

f)     The MMRSA requires local governments to license, permit, or approve commercial medical cannabis as a prerequisite for state licensing, including the commercial cultivation of medical cannabis. Therefore, local licensing of medical cannabis cultivation is an essential part of ensuring an adequate supply of safe and legal medicine for legitimate patients to use.

g)    Local governments retain broad discretion in regulating the time, place, and manner of commercial medical cannabis cultivation within their jurisdiction under the MMRSA.

h)   The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), the leading voice in herbal products industry, published recommendations for regulators regarding medical cannabis cultivation and other activity in 2014. These recommendations show that the indoor and outdoor commercial cultivation of medical cannabis can be conducted in a manner that is safe, secure, and sustainable.

i)     Research conducted by Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the nation’s leading medical cannabis patient advocacy organization, show that sensible regulations for medical cannabis preserve safe and legal access for legitimate patients, while reducing crime and complaints in neighborhoods.

_____ Definitions.

a)    “Commercial Medical Cannabis Cultivation” means any activity involving the planting, growing, harvesting, drying, curing, grading, or trimming of cannabis for medical use, including nurseries, that is intended to be transported, processed, manufactured, distributed, dispensed, delivered, or sold in accordance with the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA) for use by medical cannabis patients in California pursuant to the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 (California Health and Safety Code Section 11362.5).

b)   “Commercial Medical Cannabis Cultivators License” means a business license for Commercial Medical Cannabis Cultivation in <name of jurisdiction> issued pursuant to the Chapter.

c)    “Indoor Cultivation” means Commercial Medical Cannabis Cultivation inside a building using exclusively artificial light.

d)   “Mix Light Cultivation” means Commercial Medical Cannabis Cultivation indoors or outdoors using a combination of artificial and natural light.

e)    “Outdoor Cultivation” means Commercial Medical Cannabis Cultivation outdoors using exclusively sunlight.

f)     “Primary Caregiver” has the same definition as in Section 11362.7 of the California Health and Safety Code.

g)    “Qualified Patient” has the same definition as in Section 11362.5 of the California Health and Safety Code.

_____ Local Licenses and Approvals Required.

a)    Beginning <effective date of local licensing requirement>, no person shall engage in Commercial Medical Cannabis Cultivation in <name of jurisdiction> without first obtaining a Commercial Medical Cannabis Cultivators License.

b)   A Commercial Medical Cannabis Cultivators License shall be issued by the <name of city/county agency issuing license> pursuant to the provisions of <city/county code section specifying ordinary licensing process>.

c)    A Commercial Medical Cannabis Cultivators License shall be valid for one year and renewable annually thereafter.

d)   The <name of city/county agency issuing license> may revoke a Commercial Medical Cannabis Cultivators License for violations of state and local law, including the provisions of the Chapter, pursuant to the procedures in <city/county code section specifying ordinary process for suspending business licenses>.

e)    A Commercial Medical Cannabis Cultivators License holder shall also obtain all ordinary building permits, licenses, clearances, and approvals required for manufacturing or agricultural use at the address or parcel where medical cannabis cultivation is lawfully permitted pursuant to this Chapter.

f)     The actions of a Commercial Medical Cannabis Cultivators License holder, its employees, and its agents that are permitted pursuant to the Chapter and conducted in accordance with the requirements of this Chapter are not unlawful and shall not be an offense subject to arrest, prosecution, or other sanction.

g)    The actions of a person who, in good faith, allows his or her property to be used by a Commercial Medical Cannabis Cultivators License holder, its employees, and its agents, as permitted pursuant to the Chapter, are not unlawful and shall not be an offense subject to arrest, prosecution, or other sanction under state law, or be subject to a civil fine.

_____ State License Required.

a)    A Commercial Medical Cannabis Cultivators License holder shall obtain all state licenses and permits required under the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA), as amended from time to time, and any subsequent state licensing or regulations duly adopted and enacted by the State or an authorized regulatory body.

b)   Notwithstanding the provisions of Section (a), no state license or permit shall be required if state licenses are not yet available pursuant to the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act or the availability or validity of state licenses pursuant to the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act is interrupted, suspended, or revoked for any reason.

_____ Approved Zones.

a)    A Commercial Medical Cannabis Cultivators License may be issued in any zoning district approved for manufacturing or agriculture.

b)   No Commercial Medical Cannabis Cultivators License shall be issued for any property that is located within six hundred feet of a public or private school (K-12).

_____ Security.

a)    Licensed Indoor Cultivation shall be conducted in a secured facility that is monitored at all times. Security equipment shall include, but not necessarily be limited to:

1)   Locking doors and windows,

2)   A remotely monitored alarm system that is operational at any time that the structure is not occupied by authorized persons,

3)   Video recording equipment and lighting that is sufficient to recognize an individual’s face in the facility, and

4)   Video recording equipment that can store video recordings for up to seventy-two hours and download recordings onto a permanent storage device, as needed.

b)   Parcels on Outdoor Cultivation or Mixed Light Cultivation are conducted must be secure. Security equipment shall include, but not necessarily be limited to, a fence surrounding the plants of not less than six feet in height with a locking gate.

c)    No medical cannabis shall be cultivated in any structure or on any parcel if the medical cannabis plants are visible from any public place.

d)   A Commercial Medical Cannabis Cultivators License holder shall maintain adequate security at all times to prevent burglary, robbery, diversion of medical cannabis for unlawful use, and nuisance activity in the immediate vicinity.

e)    Any security personnel employed by or contracted by at Commercial Medical Cannabis Cultivators License holder shall, at a minimum, possess a valid Guard Card issued by the California Department of Consumer Affairs.

_____ Qualified Patients and Primary Caregivers Exempted.

A Qualified Patient or Primary Caregiver cultivating medical cannabis for five or fewer Qualified Patients shall not be subject to the provisions of this Chapter, provided that (1) all of the medical cannabis cultivated is for the personal medical use of the patient for whom it is cultivated, and (2) the Primary Caregiver only receives compensation for actual expenses, including reasonable compensation for services provided to a Qualified Patient to enable that person to lawfully use medical cannabis pursuant to State law, or for payment for out-of-pocket expenses incurred in providing those services in full compliance with Section 11362.765 of the California Health and Safety Code.

_____ Severability.

The provisions of this Chapter are severable. If any provision of this act or its application is held invalid, that invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application.

ASA adds workshops to CA lobby day to support local advocacy

CA Capitol from the Rose GardenThe California Citizen Lobby Day is just one month away. Get registered now so that we have time to schedule an appointment for you with your state Assembly Member and Senator on Monday, June 15. We are requesting a $25 donation to help defer the costs of the event, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

This year’s lobby day is actually two days. We will have two workshops on Sunday, June 14, designed to support local advocacy. ASA Director of Patient Focused Certification Kristin Nevadal will be talking about challenges and solutions for regulating medical cannabis cultivation. Advocates can use this expert information to help stem the tide of city and county cultivation bans. I will also be presenting a workshop on using voter initiatives to adopt medical cannabis ordinances or repeal bans.

The workshops are from 1:00 to 5:00 PM on Sunday. You need to buy tickets in advance, because workshop space is limited to 100 people. Tickets are $15 for one workshop of $25 for both. Register, see the full schedule, and get all the event details online at

Scroll down for all the medical cannabis news, events, action alerts, court support, and chapter meetings. 

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Happy MLK Day, California!

Town Hall pictureHappy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, California! I hope you are all having a safe and healthy holiday. There is good news and bad news at the local level in this week’s California Weekly Roundup. The good news is that the Pinoleville Pomo Nation, a Native American tribe in Mendocino County, will soon start cultivating medical cannabis on tribal land. And I am also happy to see the City of San Diego continuing its march towards safe and legal access in Southern California.

Unfortunately, there is bad news for patients in other communities. The City of Vallejo just voted to close all of the patients’ collectives there, and Kern County is suing local providers. You will also see a short piece this week about plans to ban outdoor cultivation in Redding.

While the prospects for medical cannabis look good for the state on the long term, patients and providers are still stuck in crosscurrents at the city and county level. Local advocacy is still important, and I want to help you succeed in your hometown. You can use ASA’s free online Medical Cannabis Advocates Training Center to learn advocacy skills, craft a strategy, and build a coalition. You can also use this weekly email blast to let others know about community meetings, city council meetings, and other important events. Just send an email to before 12:00 PM on Friday to be included in Monday's distribution.

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Maral v. Live Oak – Local Politics Matter

A local ban on all medical cannabis cultivation stands after the California Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal on Wednesday in Maral v. Live Oak, an appellate decision permitting cities and counties to prevent patients from growing their own medicine, despite the fact that it is allowed under state law. The decision means that a ban on all cultivation adopted by the City of Live Oak in 2011 will be precedent for other cities and counties to follow.

The Maral decision is a second blow to patients’ rights in California. Last year, the state supreme court held in Riverside v. Inland Empire Patients Health and Wellness Center that local governments could ban distribution of legal medicine. Maral and Riverside are a one-two punch for California patients and providers. By allowing local governments to prevent any cultivation or distribution of medical cannabis, the courts are, in effect, authorizing jurisdictions to opt out of crucial parts of Proposition 215.

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Feds Continue to Undermine Mendocino's Local Law by Violating Patient Privacy

It wasn’t enough for the Justice Department to conduct aggressive raids on state-compliant cultivators in Mendocino County in 2010 and 2011, then earlier this year threaten local officials with litigation if the highly successful cultivation program continued. Now, according to the Ukiah Daily Journal, federal authorities issued a subpoena for “financial records the county of Mendocino keeps regarding its medical marijuana ordinance.”

Little is known about the subpoena, other than it was issued in October to the Mendocino County Auditor-Controller's Office for records of funds paid to the county under its medical marijuana ordinance, County Code 9.31. Undoubtedly, the lack of information has to do with unwillingness by the Justice Department to come clean about its interference in the implementation of local and state medical marijuana laws. The offices of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the U.S. Attorney could “neither confirm nor deny” that a subpoena was issued, and local officials are also not talking.

In 2010, the DEA raided the legal crop of Joy Greenfield, who was the first cultivator to register with the Sheriff’s Office, in the widely popular program that raised about $500,000 of new revenue for the county. Under the local law, which was abandoned in March after threats from the Justice Department, the Sheriff’s Office sold zip ties for $25 per plant to show that they were being grown in compliance with state law.

No arrests were made in the Greenfield raid, but all of her and her patients’ medicine was destroyed. The DEA reared its ugly head again in October 2011, with the raid of Matt Cohen’s farm, Northstone Organics. Like Greenfield, Cohen was in full compliance with the law. Sheriff Tom Allman commented at the time that, “As far as I know, Matt Cohen and Northstone Organics were following all of the state laws and local ordinances that are in place.” Matt, too, avoided arrest, but his entire crop was destroyed and he was intimidated from continuing to grow.

Escalating its effort to undermine Mendocino’s cultivation ordinance, in January the U.S. Attorney’s Office threatened to file an injunction against the program and seek legal action against county officials who supported it. However, the forced termination of the program was apparently not enough for the feds. Nearly a year later, the Justice Department now appears to be seeking private and outdated information that should be under the sole purview of local officials.

This, of course, raises a number of important questions beyond the sweeping impact of divulging private patient records to federal law enforcement.

  1. What are the motivations of federal officials in seeking this information?

  2. Who is being targeted and why?

  3. If the program is no longer in effect, why are these records important to the federal government?

  4. Shouldn’t privacy laws and the state’s Medical Marijuana Program prevent such invasive tactics by the federal government?

Regardless of how you answer these questions, the actions of the Justice Department are anything but “just” and, likely, violate the rights of California patients. Because of this, ASA intends to get to the bottom of the subpoena and take whatever actions are necessary to keep patients and their providers out of harm’s way. Our hope is that when all of this subsides, the Mendocino cultivation program will be operational once again.