Cannabis Access Under Attack: You Have Only Days to Take ActionLeave a Comment
The Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) will allow access to cannabis throughout the state, as Prop 64 intended, if we can keep this addition to the BCC’s proposed permanent regulation package: Sec. 5416 (d) A delivery employee may deliver to any jurisdiction within the State of California.
The State of Cannabis Delivery in California
Currently, 73% of California’s municipalities completely block Prop 64 and access to medical marijuana. In these municipalities, residents can’t buy cannabis from a dispensary, order cannabis delivery, and, in most cases, can’t even cultivate it because the regulations are too restrictive. (Huge permitting fees and adjacent structures with unrealistic setbacks, for example.)
This isn’t what the vast majority of voters intended when they approved legalization. As a result, reasonable access to cannabis is non-existent in nearly three-quarters of the state.
Both the Bureau of Cannabis Control and the State Legislature have attempted to enact regulations or legislation that would fix this problem. Senator Ricardo Lara recently introduced SB 1302 that would have eliminated delivery bans as well. It suffered the fate of most bills–it never even made it to the House.
Each time a governing body has attempted to clarify that delivery should be allowed everywhere, it faced staunch opposition from special interest groups that wish to defy the will of the voters. These special interest groups say that the BCC’s proposed regulations would defeat Prop 64’s intent to maintain local control over cannabis regulations.
But there’s a difference between maintaining local control over reasonable regulations and completely banning cannabis throughout most of the state. In many of the districts that completely ban cannabis access, the voters overwhelmingly approved of Prop 64, but their public representatives continue to defy their will. As a result, cannabis patients who NEED access to their medicine are being forced back into the black market.
Why We Must Allow Cannabis Delivery
Prop 64‘s original intent and purpose includes a provision that preserves the power of local municipalities to ban local adult-use businesses. However, this doesn’t explicitly allow these municipalities to ban cannabis delivery to residents from state-legal businesses. Again, the opposition’s liberal interpretation of the local-control provision has resulted in a complete ban of cannabis activity in 73% of the state. These bans have led to a massively lower state-revenue than predicted, and an explosion in black market activity.
Since the initiative explicitly states its first intent and purpose is to “take non-medical marijuana production and sales out of the hands of the illegal market,” it’s obvious that this statement takes precedence over their broadly-interpreted, implicit interpretation of Business and Professions Code 26200:
(a) Nothing in this division shall be interpreted to supersede or limit the authority of a local jurisdiction to adopt and enforce local ordinances to regulate businesses licensed under this division, including, but not limited to, local zoning and land use requirements, business license requirements, and requirements related to reducing exposure to secondhand smoke, or to completely prohibit the establishment or operation of one or more types of businesses licensed under this division within the local jurisdiction.
Adherence to this section doesn’t require allowing municipalities to completely ban delivery, especially if using such a liberal interpretation would allow bans in most of the state and cause an explosion in black-market activity.
However, adherence to Sec. 3 Intents and Purposes (a) would require allowing delivery everywhere, now that we have seen the results of the ban.
The BCC is simply enacting a regulation that they’re required to by law, and they’re being attacked by special interest lobbies for doing their job.
How You Can Help
We need to let the BCC know that they have the people’s support in enacting this much-needed piece of regulation. You can help us support the BCC, cannabis delivery and the legal market in two different ways.
First, if you’re in town, attend the BCC’s upcoming Cannabis Advisory Committee and let them know you back delivery everywhere and want to end the black market.
- August 20, 2018 at 10:00 am
- Hilton Sacramento Arden West, Grand Ballroom
- 2200 Harvard Street, Sacramento CA 95815
Second, if you can’t swing by on the 20th, write the BCC at BCC.firstname.lastname@example.org and let them know that you support their implementation of delivery in Sec. 5416(d).
But hurry! You only have until August 27th to let them know you’ve got their backs! If we don’t show massive public support for this regulation, we could permanently lose access to legal, safe cannabis in most of California.
Whether it’s baby diapers or a bacon-of-the-month club, it’s common to shop online and have goods delivered to your door.
For patients and consumers, professional cannabis delivery services offer the same modern convenience with added bonuses – like avoiding running into your child’s teacher. Most of all, cannabis delivery preserves safe and easy access for those who rely on cannabis to treat chronic and painful conditions.
With proposed changes to California legislation that may make cannabis delivery more accessible, it’s important to consider how this can benefit your community.
How Does Cannabis Delivery Help Patients?
Cannabis delivery provides a much-needed service to medical patients, especially those who can’t travel to dispensaries or have a caretaker deliver their medicine. For elderly patients, people with disabilities, and anyone who suffers mobility restrictions, delivery may be the only salvation.
“I think that’s the key aspect that really drives the conversation about why cannabis delivery is really essential,” says Juli Crockett, Ph.D., Director of Compliance for cannabusiness licensing consulting firm, MMLG.
Since only about 30% of California municipalities have cannabis ordinances in place, the nearest licensed dispensary may be very far away. Depending on where you live, you might need to drive over 200 miles to buy medical marijuana. That’s a long way to travel, even for someone without mobility issues.
Advocates are fighting to make cannabis delivery available everywhere in California, regardless of a city or county ban.
“I’m very concerned about preserving safe patient access at reasonable prices with reasonable taxation,” Crockett says. “Equitable access isn’t just about disability in the form of physical ailment,” she added, referring to the profound transportation costs many patients face.
In addition to the hardship of travel, cannabis delivery relieves a financial burden from medical patients. Mobile delivery services have less overhead costs than brick-and-mortar dispensaries, which means savings passed on to you, the patient.
“Delivery services make accessing cannabis more cost-effective and convenient,” agreed Laura Geftman, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and addiction recovery specialist who blogs about cannabis at Welcoming Weed. “Cannabis delivery allows patients to promote their health and receive medicine without overexerting themselves.”
Another advantage of MMJ delivery? Timely arrival. You can get your medicine immediately after you receive a medical marijuana recommendation. If you’re in New York or California and need certification, NuggMD can help!
Benefits to Consumers
Even if you’re not a medical marijuana patient, you probably appreciate the convenience of home delivery. Whether it’s getting a pizza in under 30 or a curated wine selection (or both?), you can order about anything. So it makes sense to expect the same convenience when buying cannabis.
Beyond ease, delivery services offer privacy that may be critical if you prefer to keep your personal habits to yourself.
“Some users are still in the cannabis closet,” says Geftman. “They don’t want anyone to know they use cannabis, no matter what their reason may be.”
Parents, in particular, may not want to be seen entering or leaving a dispensary. Studies show that more parents are smoking weed than ever before, but face restrictions that others don’t.
Aside from the potential fear of jail, parents can’t enter a dispensary with children under 18. If you have kids, you might need a babysitter to run a quick errand. With the abundance of tasks parents already have to manage, cannabis delivery gives a well-deserved break.
How Safe Is Cannabis Delivery?
There are concerns about cannabis delivery vehicles being targets for theft, but the fact is legal delivery services are under strict watch.
“Every point is watched,” says Crockett, “there are really intense controls at every level of the supply chain.”
Licensed cannabis delivery services provide a much safer alternative to black market sales.
Sergeant David Woolsey of the San Jose Police Department told the Huffington Post that there’s only been one incident during the first year home delivery, and the driver wasn’t harmed.
Woolsey added that there are probably higher rates of violent crime among black market sales; those are harder to track.
The thriving cannabis black market poses risks not only to consumers, but to businesses that comply with current regulations.
“We have an incredibly hyper-regulated, licensed industry that is being gutted – I mean just eviscerated – by the unlicensed illicit market,” Crockett notes. “There’s no way they can compete without an enforcement effort that’s equal to the level of regulation.”
Since many black market buyers typically purchase cannabis at home, delivery offers the same convenience without breaking the law.
“Cannabis delivery businesses help discourage black market sales by generally making them unnecessary,” says Joe Goldstein, Director of SEO and Operations for Trailblazer SEO. “When legitimate businesses can offer fair pricing, better products selections, better transparency, and the convenience of mobile ordering, there’s significantly less incentive to buy from the black market.”
Fair pricing may be a challenge, though. As Crockett points out, dispensaries and delivery services alike face regulations and taxes that don’t apply to black market sales.
But those rules and regulations are in place to protect the consumer, the business, and the employees.
“In many ways, the cannabis sales process is way more regulated than pharmaceuticals,” Crockett says, citing the example that you could easily pick up Oxycontin at a CVS drive-thru. Yet once cannabis enters the conversation, it’s out of the question.
“That’s the thing that blows my mind every day about being in the cannabis industry…We’re engaged in this monumental process of untangling many years of prejudices, propaganda, prohibition and misinformation.”
Now that open, intelligent cannabis discussions are taking place, Crockett predicts concerns and issues are inevitable. After all, public safety is the primary focus.
So, will licensed cannabis delivery services eventually wipe out the illicit industry and offer safe, convenient access?
“This is a complex, highly political, very nuanced process that’s going to take time.”
Will Statewide Cannabis Delivery Soon Be Allowed?
In the summer of 2018, the Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) proposed a regulatory amendment that will allow cannabis delivery to all California jurisdictions, regardless of local laws. This would reopen access in the 73% of California’s municipalities who ban everything. The BCC is expected to make a decision sometime in January of 2019. If approved, cannabis will become more accessible throughout the state, strengthening communities from San Diego up to Cresent City, thereby improving lives and creating a greater sense of well-being.
Does your local dispensary deliver cannabis? Search Nugg’s Marketplace to see what dispensaries will bring your favorite flower, vape, edible and more right to your doorstep.
As many of you know, our FAQ column helps answer some of the more perplexing aspects of new cannabis laws. But sometimes a reader gives us a juicy question we can’t answer, or find the answer for.
When this happens, we turn to the Bureau of Cannabis Control, which is more than happy to provide answers to confusing legal questions.
What you'll learn in this article:
[Click any of the section titles below to jump there]
Can the Bureau of Cannabis Control Dictate MMJ Limits?
About a month ago, we received a great question:
“How much cannabis concentrate can be sold to qualified medical patients?”
First, you should know that the state attempted to establish default possession limitations with SB420 in 2003. But these attempts were shot down in 2010 by the People v. Kelly.
According to Ballotpedia, “the basis for the court’s ruling in People v. Kelly is that the 2003 legislation amounted to an amendment to Proposition 215 and that the California Constitution prohibits legislative tampering with ballot initiatives approved by voters.”
This has been a sticky wicket for those wanting to limit cannabis. Basically, the ruling said the amount of cannabis a medicinal patient can have is the amount the doctor says he/she can have. If the doctor prescribes a daily bath in hash oil, that’s a legally defensible position.
This was good news for patients who no longer had to fear prosecution if they truly needed larger amounts of cannabis. The limits established by SB420 still remained in Health and Safety Code Sec. 11362.77, but there is now a valid defense if a patient has a rec for larger amounts.
Can Prop. 64 Revoke This Medical Defense?
Unfortunately, Prop 64 changed all this. The proposition establishes a pathway for the legislature to alter any part of the voter initiative with a two-thirds vote to “further the purposes and intent” of the act. So, naturally, people assume the sky’s the limit for legislative overreach. It’s not.
No section of Prop 64 addresses the amount of cannabis a medical cannabis patient can possess. In fact, all of the patient possession limits in current law are actually installed by SB94, the new law designed to enact Prop 64. So, technically, the legislature once again attempts to establish limits for these needy people, just like in SB420, that hasn’t been voted into law, defying Prop 215.
Prop 215 has not been repealed. It’s still a voter initiative passed by the people. It’s still a valid law and was not only left intact by Prop 64, but Prop 64 repeatedly defers to Prop 215.
Still, unless you want to be the defendant in that inevitable landmark case revisiting the People v. Kelly, you better know the limit the legislature attempts to impose on patients.
Initially, our reader’s question seems reasonable and easy to answer. Under the recently amended SB94, recreational users can buy up to one ounce of flower or up to eight grams of concentrates. Medical patients can purchase up to eight ounces of flower and — oh, wait, the default amount of concentrates a cannabis patient can buy isn’t in the code.
What now? Time to message the BCC!
Back and Forth with the BCC
On Feb. 7, 2018, we wrote:
How much cannabis concentrate can be sold to medical patients? So far, the regulations only control flower — 8 ounces. They don’t differentiate for concentrate. Does this mean that 8 ounces of concentrate could be sold as well?
On Feb. 21, we received this response:
Thank you for contacting the Bureau of Cannabis Control (Bureau). Please see the Health and Safety Code section 11362.77. It defines the daily amounts allowed.
That’s not a clear answer, especially since we copied and pasted the applicable code sections that refer to Health and Safety Code section 11362.77 for easy reference. Apparently, their staff didn’t read our entire email.
So we immediately answered back:
I can understand if you didn’t read my question fully. You’re probably getting a million questions. I know it’s referred to in H&SC 11362.77. This is why I mentioned the code at the end of my question and pointed out to you that H&SC 11362.77 doesn’t define medical cannabis at all. The answer is NOT in this code. All this code says is:
11362.77. (a) A qualified patient or primary caregiver may possess no more than eight ounces of dried cannabis per qualified patient. In addition, a qualified patient or primary caregiver may also maintain no more than six mature or 12 immature cannabis plants per qualified patient.
This code doesn’t mention concentrate at all. So, my question still stands, how much concentrate can a patient purchase?
The next day, the Bureau responded yet again:
Yes we do get a million questions a day. Thank you for understanding. The Health and Safety Code section does not define medical cannabis, but it states how much a patient may purchase as a daily limit. I have highlighted the section below that should answer your question regarding the daily limit of concentrate, not flower.
Well, that’s all well and good, but it still doesn’t answer the question. The code highlighted above is the amount of concentrate allowed for recreational consumers, not the default amount permitted for medical patients.
Naturally, we immediately responded:
The limit highlighted is for adult-use cannabis, not medical. I am asking what the limit for medical possession is. And it is reasonable to assume that there will be a difference because there is a difference in the amount of flower allowed between adult-use and medical. What they have failed to differentiate is the difference between adult-use concentrate and medical concentrate allowed.
Nearly one month after sending this reply, we finally got an answer — well, not really:
Health and Safety Code Section 11362.77 states:
(a) A qualified patient or primary caregiver may possess no more than eight ounces of dried cannabis per qualified patient. In addition, a qualified patient or primary caregiver may also maintain no more than six mature or 12 immature cannabis plants per qualified patient.
(b) If a qualified patient or primary caregiver has a physician’s recommendation that this quantity does not meet the qualified patient’s medical needs, the qualified patient or primary caregiver may possess an amount of cannabis consistent with the patient’s needs.
(c) Counties and cities may retain or enact medicinal cannabis guidelines allowing qualified patients or primary caregivers to exceed the state limits set forth in subdivision a.
(d) Only the dried mature processed flowers of female cannabis plant or the plant conversion shall be considered when determining allowable quantities of cannabis under this section.
(e) A qualified patient or a person holding a valid identification card, or the designated primary caregiver of that qualified patient or person, may possess amounts of cannabis consistent with this article.
As indicated in the statute, the limit applies to the dried mature processed flowers of the female cannabis plant or the plant conversion. Therefore, the limit would apply to dried flower and the plant conversion as stated in the statute. We have since come to realize that licensed retailers are not able to readily identify what amount of concentrates the plant conversion may amount to. The Bureau is currently working on further clarifying this regulation.
In other words, the Bureau of Cannabis Control doesn’t know yet.
The Bureau’s Apparently Stumped—And so Are We
Well, that’s okay. The law isn’t clear to us either; that’s why we asked. The problem is the Bureau of Cannabis Control cites a section of code from SB420 (a law that was rendered partially unenforceable by the People v. Kelly).
While it remains in several amendments, the latest being SB94, it’s old and does nothing to establish an acceptable limit. The section only dictates what parts of the plant can be considered in determining limits.
After over a month-and-a-half of questioning, neither we nor the Bureau of Cannabis Control could find the section of current law dictating the default amount of cannabis concentrate a patient can purchase.
Could it be the amount of cannabis concentrate that a patient can purchase hasn’t been established? Understanding that there’s a subtle difference between possession limits and purchase limits, CAN purchase limits be established since Prop 64 didn’t address medical possession limits — especially since some patients have to travel more than 200 miles to find safe access to their medicine? Can SB94 override Prop. 215 any more than SB420 could?
We’ll let you know when we find out.