Monday, April 24, 2017

How to Legally Grow Marijuana in California

If you want to grow marijuana in California (and you care about doing it legally), the first step is to stop taking bad advice from your friends.  There's a lot of misinformation out there.  Despite the recent reforms, people are still calling my office because they've been arrested for some marijuana-related crime.  Cannabis cultivation can be a minefield if you don't understand the law.

Since voters approved Prop 63, adults age 21 and older may cultivate up to 6 plants for their personal, recreational consumption.  The 6-plant limit applies to each piece of property, not to each adult.  If 3 adults live together in one house, they may cultivate a total of 6 plants in their backyard, not 18.  They can give away small amounts of their crop to friends, but they're still not allowed to sell it or trade it for anything of value.

If you have a doctor's recommendation to use medical marijuana, the 6-plant limit does not apply. You may cultivate as much as your doctor says that you need for your condition.  Be very wary, though, of so-called "99-Plant" recommendations that many doctors sell for a few extra dollars.  Remember that a rec is only as valuable as the doctor who will actually come to court and testify on your behalf.  If you are arrested and accused of cultivating an excessive amount of cannabis, do you really trust that your doctor that will show up in court and tell the judge that he examined you in good faith?  Do you believe he will testify that, in his professional opinion, you need 99 plants for your personal use?

Also keep in mind that doctors cannot issue "cultivation licenses" in California.  Regardless of whatever bad legal advice your doctor gave you (and regardless of whatever worthless piece of paper he sold you), his 99-plant recommendation does not entitle you to grow a large crop or to sell your excess harvest to a local dispensary.  There is a legal way to grow marijuana for sale (keep reading), but you should not simply rely on your doctor's 99-plant rec as a defense to marijuana charges.

There are currently 2 ways to legally sell marijuana (or to exchange it for anything of value) in California.  The first option is to apply for a license from the California Bureau of Cannabis Control.  The BCC issues specific licenses for indoor and outdoor grows of various sizes.  If you hold a valid, state-issued cultivation license, you may grow marijuana and sell it for profit, subject to some complicated regulations.  Call our office if you have questions about applying for one of these licenses. 

The other option to legally cultivate cannabis for sale is through a non-profit medical marijuana dispensary.  Dispensaries can take many forms -- unincorporated associations, agricultural collectives, or nonprofit mutual benefit corporations (this is the most common form and the method that the California Attorney General recommends).  Buyers and sellers of medical marijuana must be members of the same non-profit dispensary; sales from one entity to another entity (or from one club to another club, or from one freelance grower to a collective, etc.) is still illegal.  If you want to grow for a medical dispensary, you must be a member of that dispensary, and you should have some written documentation to that effect.  You should either be employed by the dispensary as a grower, or else you should have a written contract between yourself and the dispensary wherein you agree to provide cannabis and the club agrees to pay you a salary.

If you or a loved one has questions about legally growing or selling marijuana in California, call us for a free attorney consultation. (714) 449-3335. Ask for John.

Thanks for reading.