Access, distribution, and security components of state medical marijuana programs - Fact Sheet


Fact Sheet

Thirteen states, including Hawaii, have adopted medical marijuana laws. These laws allow certain individuals to cultivate and use marijuana for medical purposes. These individuals must comply with their respective state's medical marijuana law, including being certified or registered to use marijuana for certain specified medical conditions.

Federal law, however, prohibits the cultivation and any use of marijuana. Creating further difficulty for individuals who use medical marijuana is the fact that the medical marijuana laws of most states do not provide a method of obtaining medical marijuana.

This study examines the policies and procedures of the medical marijuana programs of the other twelve states with regard to issues of access, distribution, and security. Of particular interest are the programs in California, New Mexico, and Rhode Island -- the only three states that currently have policies and procedures in place that address these issues.

California's system of distribution is not mandated by statute or administrative rule. Instead, California's state law allows for the formation of cooperatives and collectives for the purpose of cultivating medical marijuana. Regulation is conducted at the municipal and county levels, rather than at the state level.

New Mexico's system of distribution for medical marijuana is established by statute and provides for the licensing of private non-profit producers of medical marijuana. The New Mexico Department of Health has finalized an extensive set of administrative rules to regulate the licensing and operation of medical marijuana production facilities. New Mexico issued its first license to a private non-profit producer earlier this year, and distribution is anticipated to begin by the end of summer.

Rhode Island's system of distribution for medical marijuana is also established by statute. Like New Mexico, the Rhode Island distribution system allows for the licensing of private nonprofit entities, called "compassion centers", to cultivate, distribute, and dispense medical marijuana. The Rhode Island Department of Health is currently drafting the regulations that will govern how their distribution system will be operated.