The period within which unlicensed medical co-operatives are allowed to operate in California is coming to an end on January 9th, according to a Marijuana Business Daily report.
Previously, many collectives and cooperatives had been grandfathered into the current regulatory structures. A legal defense provided through 2018 protected them due to their status as medical cannabis collectives. However, laws have shifted and the legal protection ends after January 9.
“It’s significant because, at this point, if you don’t have a license, whatever legal protection you have goes away. And the stark reality is that for many places in California, licenses are not available.” — Michael Chernis, Los Angeles-based cannabis attorney, via MJBizDaily
Many municipalities in California have banned cannabis operations, while other places have lagged in the licensing process. Additionally, California cannabis licenses already carry a hefty price tag.
Its unclear what level of enforcement will face collectives who continue to operate without licenses. Some speculate that there may not be enough money available in the budgets of smaller cities to fund large-scale enforcement efforts. Others believe that, while there may not be money for raids, municipalities may seek to shut down the unlicensed dispensaries by issuing code enforcement violations.
Once the grace period ends, medical cannabis operators must either have a license, go out of business, or take their chances with law enforcement. There isn’t much firm data on exactly how many unlicensed collectives or co-ops may be operating in California, though many estimate their numbers in the hundreds.