California's original medical cannabis law, the Compassionate Use Act (Prop. 215), directs local officials to implement ways for qualified patients to access their medicine. With the passage of state legislation (SB 420) in 2003, and the 2005 court ruling in People v. Urziceanu, medical cannabis dispensing collectives (or dispensaries) are now recognized as legal entities. Since most of the more than 150,000 cannabis patients in California (NORML 2005 estimate) rely on dispensaries for their medicine, communities across the state are facing requests for business licenses or zoning decisions related to the operation of dispensaries.
Americans for Safe Access, the leading national organization representing the interests of medical cannabis patients and their doctors, has undertaken a study of the experience of those communities that have dispensary ordinances. The report that follows details those experiences, as related by local officials; it also covers some of the political background and current legal status of dispensaries, outlines important issues to consider in drafting dispensary regulations, and summarizes a recent study by a University of California, Berkeley researcher on the community benefits of dispensaries. In short, this report describes why:
Regulated dispensaries benefit the community by:
Creating dispensary regulations combats crime because:
Regulated dispensaries are:
This report concludes with a section outlining the important elements for local officials to consider as they move forward with regulations for dispensaries. ASA has worked successfully with officials in Kern County, Los Angeles, San Francisco and elsewhere to craft ordinances that meet the state's legal requirements, as well as the needs of patients and the larger community. Please contact ASA if you have questions: 888-929-4367.