This past November, California joined the ranks of Washington state and Colorado when voters elected to decriminalize marijuana for recreational use. While Proposition 64 may have made it easier for non-medical users to obtain and consume marijuana, there are still several reasons to consider remaining a member of a cannabis cooperative.
Purchasing Marijuana is Still Prohibited
First of all, the new law may allow recreational users to grow, possess, and use marijuana, but buying and selling it on the black market is still illegal. Similar to agricultural cooperatives, cannabis collectives provide their patients with needed products and service while helping them maintain access to competitive markets and keeping prices affordable. There is no buying or selling in a cooperative because membership fees and purchases are considered a patient’s investment in the collective.
Recreational Growing in More Regulated
Secondly, like the Compassionate Use Act, it is now legal for California citizens over the age of 21 to cultivate up to six plants in and on their private property. However, not everyone has the necessary space needed to grow their marijuana and all plants must still be kept out of plain sight. For those living in apartment complexes and on small properties, this would mean they have nowhere to grow their marijuana. The Compassionate Use Act allows others to grow for medical users that are unable to do so for themselves, but recreational growers are not afforded the same right.
Recreational Cooperatives Do Not Yet Exist
Finally, recreational marijuana shops will not be regulated or opened until at least 2018. There is still much legislation, rules, and regulations that need to be ironed out before storefronts can open their doors to customers. It is known however, that recreational purchasers of marijuana will be required to pay sales tax. Due to the rules of medical marijuana, cannabis cooperative members are exempt from such taxes when investing in their local collectives.
So, it may seem as if medical marijuana patients would no longer need to obtain their recommendations or join a collective, but this is far from true. Many medical users will still need to rely on their local cooperative in order to have safe, legal access to their medication. In spite of the new law, patients continue to depend on the regulation and availability that the Compassionate Use Act has already given them.