California has been in the medical cannabis industry longer than any other U.S. State. So you could say they are the veterans…

Twenty-one years ago (in 1996), California became the stateside pioneer in medical cannabis prescriptions, sales, and dispensaries. It seems like only yesterday, but that was the beginning of today’s booming U.S. medical cannabis business. During the U.S. presidential elections in November of 2016, California residents approved the sale of recreational cannabis for the first time, adding numerous new complications, additions, and changes to their current medical cannabis industry.

Let’s examine how these new regulations have affected the medical cannabis industry in California, and how California’s medical cannabis industry regulations compare to those of other medical cannabis pioneer states, like Colorado and Washington. This information may be necessary for current or future investors in the medical cannabis industry in the United States, medical cannabis patients in California, Colorado, and Oregon, or anyone else looking to learn more about the medical cannabis industry in the U.S.

California’s New Medical Cannabis Regulations

As of now, the medical cannabis regulatory organization in California is called the California Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation, otherwise known as the CBMC. California has taken on the monumental but not impossible task of combining its medical cannabis regulatory agency with a new regulatory agency designed to integrate recreational cannabis into the state’s system. The old regulatory act is known as the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act, or Assembly Bill 266, and it was passed in 2015. These regulations replaced the original medical cannabis law from 1996, called the Compassionate Use Act.

In May of 2017, the CBMC released the initial version of the newest medical cannabis regulations (called the Bureau of Marijuana Control Proposed Text of Regulations) – to be commented on and finally approved by the California government over the next few months. The new agency, in charge of both recreational cannabis regulations and medical cannabis regulations will be known simply as the Bureau of Marijuana Control, or the BMC. Here are the basics of the new medical cannabis regulation changes as they stand now (keep in mind they are not yet approved):

  • A medical cannabis patient in California will be able to buy up to eight ounces per day (that’s about $1,000 USD worth, but who’s counting)
  • With a doctor’s recommendation, a medical cannabis patient can get even more than eight ounces
  • All medical cannabis dispensaries can only be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Medical cannabis can be delivered to private residences, but drivers can only carry $3,000 worth at a time
  • Medical cannabis workers in California can unionize
  • Local law enforcement personnel can own medical cannabis businesses so long as the business is outside of the county they work in, or so long as their duties do not involve enforcement of California’s medical or recreational cannabis laws
  • Medical cannabis dispensaries must use child-safe packaging, be located at least 600 feet from all schools, and background checks are not required for owners
  • Intense lab testing of medical cannabis products for public safety (molds, pesticides, heavy metals, filth, and foreign materials among others) is required
  • Security plans for all medical cannabis dispensaries is required
  • Qualifying medical cannabis conditions: anorexia, anxiety, arthritis, cachexia, cancer, chemotherapy side effects, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, migraines, multiple sclerosis, persistent muscle spasms, severe nausea, seizures, and any other debilitating illness for which a doctor has recommended medical cannabis

Some of California’s basic medical cannabis regulations will stay the same following recreational cannabis legalization implementation, but many of them might change.

Medical Cannabis Regulations in Colorado

Colorado, another pioneer in the rapidly growing realm of medical cannabis, was the seventh state to legalize it (2000), and the first to legalize recreational cannabis (2012). Colorado’s medical cannabis regulations are all available under the Marijuana Enforcement section of the Colorado Department of Revenue, which oversees all medical and recreational cannabis procedures and laws for the state. Under Laws: Constitution, Statutes, and Regulations, the medical cannabis curious can find Colorado’s executive orders which control all medical and recreational cannabis regulation. In Colorado, the medical cannabis regulations and the recreational cannabis regulations are completely separate, although some of them may echo each other. Among Colorado’s medical cannabis regulations are the following provisions:

  • Patients may possess up to two ounces of medical cannabis at a time
  • Patients can cultivate up to six cannabis plants, only three mature at a time
  • Patients from other states cannot use their medical cannabis licenses in Colorado to purchase medical cannabis
  • Qualifying medical cannabis conditions: cachexia, cancer, chronic pain, chronic nervous system disorders, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, nausea, persistent muscle spasms, post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), and seizures

Medical Cannabis Regulations in Washington

Washington legalized medical cannabis in 1998, and recreational cannabis in 2012 along with Colorado. Washington, like Colorado and California, is now home to a booming cannabis industry, both medical and recreational. Washington’s basic medical cannabis regulations include:

  • Patients may possess up to 48 ounces of solid medical cannabis-infused product, three ounces of usable medical cannabis, 216 ounces of liquid medical cannabis infused product, or 21 grams of medical cannabis concentrates
  • Patients may grow up to six plants for personal medical cannabis use; with a healthcare professional’s recommendation, that number can be upped to 15 plants
  • Patients may possess up to eight ounces (or up to 16 if more plants are recommended) of useable medical cannabis from those plants at a time
  • Qualifying medical cannabis conditions: cachexia, cancer, Crohn’s disease, glaucoma, hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS, intractable pain, persistent muscle spasms/spasticity, nausea, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), seizures, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and any “terminal or debilitating condition”
  • Washington has no specifically medical cannabis dispensaries, but medical cannabis and medical cannabis products are sold at retail dispensaries as well

The District of Columbia and twenty-three other states also have their own medical cannabis laws, and other states are currently working on passing new medical cannabis legalization legislation now. Check back here for more news on medical cannabis industry regulatory changes or implementations; this industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, so staying informed is essential to every aspect of the medical cannabis industry.

New CA, CO, & WA Medical Cannabis Regulations Comparison Chart

For your convenience, we’ve thrown together a comparison chart of the new and existing medical cannabis regulations in California, Colorado, and Washington. This should help medical cannabis patients in all three states see what’s going on with current regulation, and even what might be coming up in the future, such as Colorado’s recently passed cannabis delivery law.

California Colorado Washington
How Much Medical Cannabis Can I Buy Per Day? Up to 8 ounces Up to one ounce, 8 grams of concentrate, or 800 milligrams of edibles Up to 3 ounces with a medical endorsement
What are Medical Cannabis Dispensary Hours? 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. 8 a.m. to 12 a.m.
Is Delivery Allowed? Yes, only by car to private residences No (it will be allowed starting January 2, 2018, though) No
Can Medical Cannabis Workers Unionize? Yes Yes Yes
Can Law Enforcement Personnel Own Medical Cannabis Businesses? Yes, as long as they are not involved in enforcement of medical or recreational cannabis laws Yes, as long as they are not a sheriff, deputy sheriff, police officer, prosecuting officer or an employee of local or state licensing authority No one is able to purchase Washington medical cannabis business licenses at this time
Is Child-Safe Packaging Required? Yes Yes Yes
Is Lab Testing of Medical Cannabis Products Required? Yes Yes Yes
Is a Security Plan for Medical Cannabis Businesses Required? Yes Yes Yes
What are the Qualifying Medical Cannabis Conditions? Anorexia
Chemotherapy side effects
Chronic pain
Multiple sclerosis
Persistent muscle spasms
Severe nausea
Any other debilitating illness for which a doctor has recommended medical cannabis
Chronic pain
Chronic nervous system disorders
Persistent muscle spasms
Post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD)
Crohn’s disease
Hepatitis C
Intractable pain
Persistent muscle spasms/spasticity
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
Any terminal or debilitating condition
 How Much Medical Cannabis Can Patients Possess at One Time? As much as the medical cannabis patient needs to help their qualifying condition/s Up to 2 ounces ·         48 ounces of solid infused product

·         Up to 3 ounces of medical cannabis

·         Up to 216 ounces of liquid infused product

·         OR 21 grams of medical cannabis concentrates

Is Reciprocity Allowed? No No No
Can Medical Cannabis Patients Grow Their Own Medical Cannabis, and if so, how much is allowed? Up to six mature plants Yes, up to six plants, three mature in general, or as much as is recommended by a patient’s doctor (no more than 99) Up to six plants, three mature at one time (can go up to 16 with healthcare professional’s recommendation)


[Image credit- Pixabay]

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