While SB 420 recognized patient collectives, there is no clear definition in the law as to what it means to "associate within the State of California in order collectively or cooperatively to cultivate marijuana for medical purposes," but courts and communities are recognizing a broad array of arrangements. In general terms it constitutes a group of qualified patients and caregivers working within a mutually agreed relationship as property holder, workers and patients who obtain cannabis. In some groups everything is voluntary, some have mandatory participation in the garden itself, and some have paid support staff. Some operate with no cash exchange while others operate as retail store front shops. Some provide delivery services. All require that the physician's authorization be verified. Most require written, rather than oral, approvals and prefer the state ID card. Most keep documents at garden and supply sites. Some seek the approval of a government agency, but more prefer to "fly under the radar" and only provide member information as an affirmative defense.
Every qualified patient or arrangement thereof has a right to argue any quantity or arrangement under state law, but they still might lose in court. People with valid identification cards are protected to the minimal extent in HS 11362.77(a) eight ounces, 12 immature or six mature plants per patient, (b) a physician's exemption or (c) a local policy. Collectives might follow pro-rata amounts, like 36 mature plants for six cardholders. In theory that means no arrest and no destruction of medicine, but law enforcement does not always comply.
Unfortunately, the same patient records that may help to defend a collective under state law can add greater risk of conspiracy charges under federal law.
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