Closed-Circuit Circuity

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The Attorney General’s Guidelines regarding medical marijuana collectives or cooperatives states: “Nothing allows marijuana to be purchased from outside the collective or cooperative for distribution to its members.  Instead, the cycle should be a closed-circuit of marijuana cultivation and consumption with no purchases or sales to or from non-members.”  (Page 10)

The foregoing statement is incorrect for several reasons.  First, nothing in California’s Health and Safety or Penal laws prohibits the purchase or act of buying marijuana.  Assuming that a person may lawfully possess or use marijuana, there is no law that makes it unlawful for him or her to buy it, even though the seller may be violating the law.  As Yogi Berra said, “sometimes you have to see what isn’t there.”

Secondly, there is nothing in the Compassionate Use Act or the Medical Marijuana Program Act that prohibits the purchase of marijuana by a qualified patient or caregiver from any source.

Moreover, as the Court observed in City of Garden Grove v. Superior Court (Kha) (2007) 157 Cal.App.4th 355, at 374, “Nothing in the CUA or MMP appears to require a qualified patient to provide evidence regarding the source of his or her marijuana.”

Furthermore, it is impossible for a lawfully formed and operated collective or cooperative to begin cultivating marijuana without starting with a seed, clone or cutting from an outside source.  A literal reading of this guideline would nullify both the CUA and the MMP.

If exchanges between members of a medical marijuana collective or cooperative are legal, why should exchanges between such lawful collectives or cooperatives be illegal?  In both cases, there has been no diversion from marijuana grown for medical use to the unlawful use of marijuana.  Excess production by one collective should be available to patients belonging to another cooperative whose crop has failed.

While the Attorney General may wish to deter unlawful cultivation and sale of marijuana, the guideline in question goes too far. It tries to accomplish the impossible by restricting the rights of medical marijuana patients.  It is enough that the unlawful cultivator and seller to qualified patients may be punished (People v. Galambos (2002) 104 Cal.App.4th 1147, 1167 (“[W]e reject defendant’s claim that Proposition 215 can be construed to imply an exception for furnishing marijuana to a marijuana buyers’ cooperative.”) To punish qualified patients or caregivers who short the closed-circuit is contrary to the purposes of the CUA and the MMP.



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