October 2, 2014

Since California has failed to regulate medical cannabis, edibles production and distribution remains a gray area, governed by the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 and the Medical Marijuana Program Act (SB-420), neither of these laws address medical cannabis edibles, so we seek to clarify these muddy waters for you below.

Added Risks: Although the medical cannabis defense applies to edibles, bakers and distributors often face an added criminal charge when arrested–Health & Safety Code §11357, possession of concentrated cannabis–which can be charged as a felony. Therefore, it is even more important for those involved in edibles to operate in compliance with California law.

Defend Yourself: The application of the MMJ legal requirements, when it comes to edibles, follows the same three cornerstones as every other medical cannabis defense.

Not for profit

As a member-contributor, you are always able to recover costs and reasonable compensation for your time, but you must be structured and operate on a not-for-profit basis.

A collective should be a closed circuit of cannabis cultivation and consumption with no purchases or sales to or from non-members.

Only patients with a medical cannabis recommendation from their physician may receive or distribute medibles.

What about selling edibles to collectives?

Although there is nothing in California’s laws that restricts individuals from belonging to more than one collective and/or baking for more than one collective, prosecutors argue that this activity is outside the spirit of the law because they feel it breaks rules 1 and 2 above: They’d argue that selling to multiple collectives is outside the closed-circuit as required by law and that furthermore a “vendor” necessarily engages in this activity for profit. Despite what government officials say, though, edible vendors fill a necessary void for most dispensaries and if you are set up properly you are absolutely entitled to a defense. This means, however, that you MUST structure your organization properly and consult a legal professional to minimize the risk of prosecution.

At-home bakers should follow the Cottage Food Act

At-home bakers can use California’s Cottage Food Act as a reference. In 2012, California Governor Brown signed this bill, allowing individuals to prepare and/or package certain treats like baked goods, candy and more in private-home kitchens. The Act further allows bakers to sell these goods out of their home or to restaurants, food trucks or other food vendors, so long as they follow the guidelines set in the bill and pass a formal health inspection of their kitchen. Additionally, it requires one to properly label their products with descriptive information, local permit number, ingredients and with the words “Made in Home Kitchen.” Labels should also include the levels of THC and CBD.

Unfortunately, Health Departments have yet to categorize medibles and still do not regulate the industry because medibles are labeled as an adulterated food. Therefore, you’d probably be hard-pressed to get the health department to sign off on your “weed brownies.” But, in an effort to demonstrate legitimacy and compliance, you’d be well advised to enroll in a food safety course and post your “certificate of training” in your kitchen.

Follow San Francisco

In response to the potential health risk involved, San Francisco enacted its own medibles regulation, which outlines the practice of making medibles similar to the Cottage Food Act. The biggest difference: If the medible maker distributes to more than one collective, they must become a state-certified food handler.

Disclaimer: This article has been prepared and published for informational purposes only and is not offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice.