Case Law Interpreting Health & Safety Code 11362.775

Case law interpreting California Health & Safety Code § 11362.775, which provides specific
legal protections for the association of qualified persons within the State in order to collectively
or cooperatively cultivate marijuana for medical purposes:

(1) People v. Hochanadel, 98 Cal.Rptr.3d 347 (filed 8/18/2009) – Court concluded that “the
MMPA’s authorization of cooperatives and collectives did not amend the CUA, but rather was a
distinct statutory scheme intended to facilitate the transfer of medical marijuana to qualified
medical marijuana patients under the CUA….” The court also concluded “that storefront
dispensaries that qualify as ‘cooperatives’ or ‘collectives’ under the CUA and MMPA, and
otherwise comply with those laws, may operate legally, and defendants may have a defense at
trial to the charges in this case based upon the CUA and MMPA.”

(2) County of Butte v. Superior Court of Butte County, 96 Cal.Rptr.3d 421 (filed 7/1/2009) –
County of Butte was sued by a member of a medical marijuana collective after being ordered by
a sheriff to destroy some of the marijuana plants in accordance with the County’s underlying
policy to allow qualified patients to grow marijuana collectively only if each member actively
participates in the actual cultivation of the marijuana by planting, watering, pruning, or
harvesting the marijuana. Trial court sustained the civil lawsuit for money damages against the
County and concluded that contrary to the policy of the County, “the [State] legislature intended
collective cultivation of medical marijuana would not require physical participation in the
gardening process by all members of the collective, but rather would permit that some patients
would be able to contribute financially, while others performed the labor and contributed the
skills and ‘know-how.’” Court of Appeal upheld the trial court ruling.

(3) People v. Newcomb et al., 2009 WL 1589574 (filed 6/9/2009) (Not Officially Published) –
Defendants appealed their convictions based upon the collective/cooperative defense under
California Health & Safety Code § 11362.775. Appellate court upheld the convictions, but
elaborated that “other than merely purchasing marijuana, not every member must contribute to
some aspect of the collective or cooperative; … Because some patients may be too ill to
contribute to the collective or cooperative, requiring them to do so, in order to be part of the
collective or cooperative, would be impractical.”

(4) People v. Urziceanu, 132 Cal.App.4th 747 (filed 9/12/2005) – Appellate court reversed
and remanded a trial court’s determination that a defendant was precluded from raising a
“collective, cooperative defense” under Health & Safety Code § 11362.775. The appellate court
found that the defendant had presented the trial court with sufficient evidence that: the defendant
was a qualified patient; the co-defendants were qualified patients; the procedures of the
collective, in question, verified the prescriptions and identities of the various members, making
them qualified patients, as well; members paid membership fees and reimbursed the defendant
for cost incurred in the cultivation through donations; and members volunteered and participated
at the collective, by helping with cultivation, delivery, processing of new applications, etc. The
court elaborated that Health & Safety Code § 11362.775’s “specific itemization of the marijuana
sales law indicates it contemplates the formation and operation of medicinal marijuana
cooperatives that would receive reimbursement for marijuana and the services provided in
conjunction with the provision of that marijuana.”

Provided by: Marcus Boyd, San Diego ASA

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