August 25, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Christine Gasparac (916) 324-5500
Enforcement and Patients
Atty. General Brown Issues Medical Marijuana Guidelines for Law
Enforcement and Patients
SACRAMENTO--California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today
released guidelines that, for the first time since California's
Proposition 215 was passed in 1996, clarify the state's laws
governing medical marijuana and provide clear guidelines for patients
and law enforcement to ensure that medical marijuana is not diverted
to illicit markets.
"California voters approved an initiative legalizing medical
marijuana, not street drugs. Marijuana intended for medicinal use
should not be sold to non-patients or on illicit markets," Attorney
General Brown said. "These guidelines will help law enforcement
agencies perform their duties in accordance with California law and
help patients understand their rights under Proposition 215."
This landmark document marks the first attempt by a state agency to
define the types of organizations that are legally permitted to
dispense marijuana. Brown's guidelines affirm the legality of medical
marijuana collectives and cooperatives, but make clear that such
entities cannot be operated for profit, may not purchase marijuana
from unlawful sources and must have a defined organizational
structure that includes detailed records proving that users are
"We welcome the Attorney General's leadership and expect that
compliance with these guidelines will result in fewer unnecessary
arrests, citations and seizures of medicine from qualified patients
and their primary caregivers," said Americans for Safe Access
Attorney Joe Elford. "No one benefits from confusion over the law.
These guidelines will help patients and law enforcement better
understand California's medical marijuana laws."
In 1996, California voters approved Proposition 215, an initiative
that exempted patients and their primary caregivers from criminal
liability under state law for the possession and cultivation of
marijuana. In addition, The Medical Marijuana Program Act (MMA),
enacted by the Legislature in 2004, intended to further clarify
lawful medical marijuana practices by establishing a voluntary
statewide identification card system, specific limits on the amount
of medical marijuana each cardholder could possess, and rules for the
cultivation of medical marijuana by collectives and cooperatives.
According to Americans for Safe Access, California has more than
200,000 doctor-qualified medial cannabis users.
Several law enforcement agencies have requested that the Attorney
General issue guidelines regarding the lawful possession, sale and
cultivation of marijuana for medicinal purposes. These law
enforcement agencies believe that individuals and cartels, under the
cover of Proposition 215, have expanded illegal cultivation and sales
of marijuana, which has led to an increase in drug-related violent
crime. Most researchers agree that the U.S. marijuana crop has seen a
sharp increase in the past decade. A report, "Marijuana Production in
the United States" by drug-policy researcher Jon Gettman, estimated
that in 2006, more than 21 million pot plants were grown in
California at a street value of up to $14 billion.
Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer, President of the California Police
Chiefs Association, praised Brown for establishing these guidelines.
"Since Proposition 215 was passed, the laws surrounding the use,
possession and distribution of medical marijuana became confusing at
best. These newly established guidelines are an essential tool for
law enforcement and provide the parameters needed for consistent
statewide regulation and enforcement."
The guidelines encourage patients to participate in the California
Department of Public Health's registration program to obtain a
medical marijuana identification card. The identification card
protects the holder from arrest for marijuana possession and is one
of the best ways to ensure the non-diversion of medical marijuana.
Collectives and cooperatives are advised to keep files on their
patients with documented verification of their qualified status.
A copy of the Guidelines is attached.