Medical Marijuana The Legislature is expected to introduce for consideration Senate Bill 643 which will revise and clarify the law regarding Medical marijuana in California.

The state of the law as it stands now is disjointed and unclear as to dispensaries, growing, manufacturing and licensing. SB 643 will create comprehensive law that will address how Medical Marijuana is dealt with moving forward by refining Proposition 215. The Bill will affect the Business and Professions Code, Government Code and Health and Safety Code.

Passage of this Bill will clarify and synthesis the various laws which will provide a solid foundation for the Medical Marijuana industry moving forward.

(1) Existing law, the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, an initiative measure enacted by the approval of Proposition 215 at the November 6, 1996, statewide general election, authorizes the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Existing law enacted by the Legislature requires the establishment of a program for the issuance of identification cards to qualified patients so that they may lawfully use marijuana for medical purposes, and requires the establishment of guidelines for the lawful cultivation of marijuana grown for medical use. Existing law provides for the licensure of various professions by the Department of Consumer Affairs. Existing law, the Sherman Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Law, provides for the regulation of food, drugs, devices, and cosmetics, as specified. A violation of that law is a crime.

This bill would establish within the Department of Consumer Affairs a Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation, under the supervision and control of the Chief of the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation, and would require the bureau to license and regulate dispensing facilities, cultivation sites, transporters, and manufacturers of medical marijuana and medical marijuana products, subject to local ordinances. The bill would require a background check of applicants for licensure, as defined, to be administered by the Department of Justice, and submission of a statement signed by an applicant, under penalty of perjury, that the information on his or her application is true, thereby creating a crime and imposing a state-mandated local program. Violation of the provisions related to applying for a conditional license would be punishable by a civil fine of up to $35,000 for each individual violation, or as otherwise specified.

The bill would make conditional licenses subject to the restrictions of the local jurisdiction in which the facility operates or proposes to operate. The bill would authorize a facility or entity that is operating in conformance with local zoning ordinances and other state and local requirements on January 1, 2016, to continue its operations until its application for conditional licensure is approved or denied. The bill would set forth provisions related to the transportation, testing, and distribution of medical marijuana. The bill would prohibit the distribution of any form of advertising for physician recommendations for medical marijuana, unless the advertisement bears a specified notice and requires that the advertisement meet specified requirements and not be fraudulent, deceitful, or misleading.

The bill would establish the Medical Marijuana Regulation Fund and would require the deposit of specified fees collected pursuant to this act into the fund. The bill would continuously appropriate moneys from the fund to the bureau for the purposes of administering this act, thereby making an appropriation. The bill would also establish the Special Account for Environmental Enforcement within the Medical Marijuana Fund. This account would contain money from fees assessed against licensed cultivation sites and would be continuously appropriated for the enforcement of environmental regulations relating to licensed cultivation sites. The bill would require the deposit of penalty moneys collected pursuant to this bill into the General Fund.

The bill would ban cultivation sites in areas zoned residential and would require, among other things, that all marijuana grown, produced, distributed, and sold in the state meet the certified organic standards by January 1, 2022, and that the bureau establish “appellations of origin” for marijuana grown in the state.

The bill would provide that it shall not supersede provisions of Measure D, as approved by the voters of the City of Los Angeles, or other similar measures, as specified.

The bill would authorize a city, county, or city and county to administer and enforce these provisions. The bill would require the bureau to establish quality assurance protocols by January 1, 2018, to ensure uniform testing standards of medical marijuana, and would require licensees to comply with these provisions. The bill would further set forth provisions regulating edible medical marijuana products, as specified. By adding these provisions to the Sherman Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Law, a violation of which is a crime, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

(2) Existing law, the Medical Practice Act, provides for the licensure and regulation of physicians and surgeons by the Medical Board of California. Existing law requires the board to prioritize investigations and prosecutions of physicians and surgeons representing the greatest threat of harm, as specified. Existing law identifies the cases that are to be given priority, which include cases of repeated acts of excessively prescribing, furnishing, or administering controlled substances without a good faith prior examination of the patient. Existing law provides that a violation of the Medical Practice Act is a crime.

This bill would require the board to consult with the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research on developing and adopting medical guidelines for the appropriate administration and use of marijuana.

The bill would also make it a misdemeanor for a physician and surgeon who recommends marijuana to a patient for a medical purpose to accept, solicit, or offer any remuneration from or to a licensed dispensing facility in which the physician and surgeon or his or her immediate family has a financial interest. By creating a new crime, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

The bill would provide that specified acts of recommending marijuana for medical purposes without a good faith examination are among the types of cases that should be given priority for investigation and prosecution by the board, as described above. The bill would further prohibit a physician and surgeon from recommending medical marijuana to a patient unless that person is the patient’s attending physician, as defined. Because a violation of that provision would be a crime, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

(3) Existing law authorizes the legislative body of a city or county to impose various taxes, including a transactions and use tax at a rate of 0.25%, or a multiple thereof, if approved by the required vote of the legislative body and the required vote of qualified voters, and limits the combined rate of transactions and use taxes within a city or county to 2%.

This bill would authorize the board of supervisors of a county or the city council of a city to impose a tax on the privilege of cultivating, dispensing, producing, processing, preparing, storing, providing, donating, selling, or distributing marijuana or products containing marijuana. The bill would authorize the tax to be imposed for either general or specific governmental purposes. The bill would require a tax imposed pursuant to this authority to be subject to any applicable voter approval requirement.

(4) Existing law exempts qualified patients, persons with valid identification cards, and the designated primary caregivers of qualified patients and persons with identification cards from certain crimes, including possession of concentrated cannabis and marijuana, cultivation of marijuana, and possession of marijuana for sale.

This bill would also exempt from those crimes an employee, officer, or board member of a licensed cultivation site or a licensed dispensing facility, except as specified.

(5) Existing law imposes sales and use taxes, as specified, to be collected by the State Board of Equalization.

This bill would require the State Board of Equalization, on or before July 1, 2016, to compile a report that includes the actual tax collected on the sale of medical marijuana, using the most current data available, and the expected tax revenues, under the existing tax structure, for the years 2016 to 2021, inclusive, and to submit that report to the Legislature and Governor’s Office.

(6) This bill would provide that its provisions are severable.

(7) Existing constitutional provisions require that a statute that limits the right of access to the meetings of public bodies or the writings of public officials and agencies be adopted with findings demonstrating the interest protected by the limitation and the need for protecting that interest.

This bill would make legislative findings to that effect.

(8) The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.

This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.