When is a Medical Marijuana Dispensary Legal?

A medical marijuana dispensary, also called “growing collective,” “medical marijuana club,” or “medical marijuana clinic,” is a location where patients can go to get medical marijuana.

In most states, medical marijuana dispensaries, clubs, clinics, or collectives are licensed and regulated by city or county business ordinances, although the state Attorney General's Office retains the legal authority to prosecute them under state law. This system can result in a confusing patchwork of medical marijuana dispensary regulations, which vary from city to city or county to county.

Cities commonly place restrictions on where medical marijuana dispensaries may legally locate, their hours of operation, how they should operate, and other rules. California lawmakers have said that in order to comply with state law, medical marijuana cooperatives and collectives should operate as non-profit organizations, verify that members are qualified patients, and maintain membership records and applications.

Hawaii does not allow the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries, clinics, or cooperatives and instead require medical marijuana patients to receive the drug directly from a physician, primary caregiver, or some other medical professional.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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