In 1996, voters legalized California medical marijuana by passing Proposition 215.
It was the country’s first successful medical marijuana ballot proposal, and it started the marijuana legalization revolution that we see today in Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Michigan and other states.
In October 2015, Governor Jerry Brown and the California legislature killed Prop. 215, making life way harder for California medical marijuana growers, patients, and distributors.
Prop. 215 was primarily written by courageous San Francisco pot seller and activist Dennis Peron.
Peron believes all use of marijuana is “medical.”
He doesn’t believe the government has any right to tell us what plants we can and can’t grow.
His goal with Prop. 215 was to allow Californians to grow their own marijuana and provide it to others with a minimum of government interference and hassle.
And from 1996 until Governor Brown and the Legislature destroyed Prop. 215 recently, Prop. 215 worked.
All you had to do if you wanted to grow your own California medical marijuana was go to a doctor, get a recommendation for medical marijuana, and set up your grow room or outdoor marijuana garden.
There was very little regulation, and this allowed entrepreneurs to retail marijuana.
The “problems” with Prop. 215 weren’t created by Prop. 215.
The problems were created by drug warriors, including so-called “liberal” politicians, who didn’t want California medical marijuana to be a free market approach that allowed individual growers, doctors, patients, collectives, and dispensaries to operate in an unregulated environment.
Prop. 215 has long been opposed by politicians, police, prosecutors, the alcohol and pharmaceutical industries, and even some marijuana growers.
The marijuana growers were opposed to it because they worried that legalization of medical marijuana growing would increase supply and create lower wholesale and retail prices.
The first step in the ruination of Prop. 215 came several years ago, with the passage of Assembly Bill 420.
The common interpretation of this law is that it limits you to a total of six blooming marijuana plants, or 12 grow phase plants.
The in 2015, a coalition of anti-Prop. 215 people created three pieces of California medical marijuana legislation: Assembly Bill 266, Assembly Bill 243, and Senate Bill 643.
Together, these three laws are known as the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act.
When Governor Brown signed these three laws in October 2015, he created a complex, draconian government regulatory scheme that won’t be fully implemented until 2018.
The main effect of the California Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act is to make it harder for small-scale California medical marijuana growers to grow and provide marijuana without fear of being arrested.
The Act creates yet another government agency, the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation.
Assisted by many other California state agencies, this new Bureau will interfere with the California medical marijuana market in very significant ways.
For one thing, the new laws make it harder for patients to get doctor’s recommendations.
They place tons of restrictions on marijuana growers.
For example, take a look at the list of California medical marijuana categories that growers and others have to be licensed to fit into:
Type 1 = Cultivation; Specialty outdoor; Small.
- (b) Type 1A = Cultivation; Specialty indoor; Small.
- (c) Type 1B = Cultivation; Specialty mixed-light; Small.
- (d) Type 2 = Cultivation; Outdoor; Small.
- (e) Type 2A = Cultivation; Indoor; Small.
- (f) Type 2B = Cultivation; Mixed-light; Small.
- (g) Type 3 = Cultivation; Outdoor; Medium.
- (h) Type 3A = Cultivation; Indoor; Medium.
- (i) Type 3B = Cultivation; Mixed-light; Medium.
- (j) Type 4 = Cultivation; Nursery.
- (k) Type 6 = Manufacturer 1.
- (l) Type 7 = Manufacturer 2.
- (m) Type 8 = Testing.
- (n) Type 10 = Dispensary: General
- (o) Type 10A = Dispensary: No more than three retail sites.
- (p) Type 11 = Distribution.
- (q) Type 12 = Transporter.
This bizarre scheme is a perfect example of how government steps in to complicate and confuse things.
One of the worst features of this poorly-configured regulatory regime is you have to get these permits and licenses from state government and local government.
Problem is, many county and/or city governments prohibit California medical marijuana cultivation and dispensing.
Worse yet, the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act affirms that local governments can completely prohibit medical marijuana growing and retailing.
Prop. 215 was concise and simple, but the new law is confusing and dumb.
For example, it allows California medical marijuana patients to grow marijuana, but every household is restricted to 100 square feet total garden space, no matter how many medical marijuana patients live in that household.
That amount of space isn’t enough for a serious California medical marijuana grower, especially if you’re doing motherplants, growing several marijuana strains at the same time, breeding marijuana seeds, going for Sea of Green or SCROG, etc.
On the other hand, if you want more than 100 square feet of grow space, the new law allows you a max of 500 feet of marijuana grow op space if you’re a licensed caregiver for four patients.
If you want to grow California medical marijuana for sale, you have to procure a state sales license, and you also have to pay for mandatory lab testing and labeling for your buds.
The new California medical marijuana laws add expense and hassle at every step in the process.
From finding a doctor to give you a California medical marijuana recommendation, to getting licenses from state and local government, to paying for bud testing, to the licensing categories that block you from growing, processing, transporting, and selling cannabis all by yourself, to the added taxes that the Act authorizes…the cost of marijuana production will go up, and so will the retail cost of marijuana.
Not only that, as soon as the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act is fully implemented, if you grow marijuana in violation of the Act, you’re at risk of incurring severe financial and criminal penalties.
Simply put, the Act makes things worse for home marijuana growers than they’ve ever been since Prop. 215 passed in 1996.
If you don’t have a government license to grow, and if you do anything other than grow a few personal marijuana plants in your 100 square foot grow op space, you’re breaking the law.
It’s very sad to see who supports the new California medical marijuana laws.
You’ve got Harborside Health Center, police organizations, drug warriors, and some large-scale marijuana growers supporting this latest example of how governments step in to ruin the California medical marijuana free market, harming small-scale growers and marijuana providers in favor of big-money interests.
Some California medical marijuana growers are counting on possible voter approval of California recreational marijuana legalization in 2016, but as you can read in this article, that “legalization” is itself likely to have a massive amount of government interference.
One of my California medical marijuana grower friends puts it this way:
“We’ve had a good life since 1996, but bad people have taken away Prop. 215. I’m going to double my garden size, increase my grow op security, and grow as much as I can as fast as I can, because who knows what the future holds for us now that they’ve passed these new laws.”