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Published on Friday, July 22, 2016

What are marijuana cooperatives and how will they affect my city?

As of July 1, 2016 the recreational and medical marijuana markets in Washington State have been merged and all existing stand-alone medical marijuana shops (think green crosses) must be shuttered. In 2015 when legislators were crafting the policy around this consolidation, one of the primary points of contention around the merger was patient access. Many medical marijuana advocates were concerned that medical marijuana patients who reside in communities that do not have any retailers would not have easy access to marijuana. As a result, the Legislature allowed for the formation of cooperatives.

Under Senate Bill 5052, adopted in 2015, qualifying medical marijuana patients and their “designated providers may form cooperatives and share responsibility for acquiring and supplying the resources needed to produce and process marijuana …”

Under the cooperative model, marijuana produced and processed may only be used by members of the cooperative which are limited to four qualifying patients or designated providers. All members must be registered in the medical marijuana database and possess valid medical marijuana cards. All members must be at least 21 years of age. However, a designated provider of an individual who is under 21 may be a member on behalf of that qualifying patient.

Cooperatives may not be located within one mile of a marijuana retailer and those who wish to form a cooperative must register its location with the Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB). The LCB reserves the right to inspect a cooperative at any time.

Cooperatives may not sell, donate, or give away its product and must be located within the domicile of one of the participants.

Cooperatives can have a maximum of 60 plants grown at their location (each participant may grow up to 15 plants). Members of the cooperative may possess no more than 72 ounces of useable marijuana at the location.

The production, processing, growing or storage of marijuana or marijuana-infused products may not occur if any portion of such activity can be readily seen by normal unaided vision or readily smelled from a public place or the private property of another housing unit.

Finally, cities, towns, counties and other municipalities may create and enforce civil penalties, including abatement procedures, for the growing or processing of marijuana and for keeping marijuana plants beyond or otherwise not in compliance with the law. Cities, towns and counties may also ban or disapprove the siting of cooperatives. The LCB maintains a database that cities and law enforcement can access to determine what cooperatives the LCB has permitted.

Categories: Marijuana
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