What is a California Medical Cannabis Collective?


What is a cannabis collective? How does it differ from a medical marijuana dispensary? Learn the difference between the two in both legal terms and how they operate.

Whether you run a medical cannabis shop or grow a few plants in your backyard for personal use, you are considered a collective in the great state of California. But for patients and growers alike, this term can be a confusing one.

Cannabis CollectiveCan everything in the cannabis industry really be considered a collective? No.

In the marijuana industry, dispensaries, co-ops and collectives tend to be bundled into one simple category and simply labeled as a collective. But each one is different in legal terms and in how they operate.

What is a Collective?

Collectives are simply a place where caregivers can provide medical marijuana to patients who cannot grow or do not have their own. Patients need to not only have a valid medical marijuana recommendation, but must also be a member of the collective in order to participate. Canna Collective in San Jose is a prime example of a true cannabis collective.

To put it simply, a collective is a place where caregivers and patients can come together to cooperatively cultivate marijuana. While collectives are not statutory entities, they may be organized as some form of business to carry out activities.

Caregivers, or vendors, are the heart and soul of every collective. Just like patients, they have doctor recommendations, but they also provide the collective with finished clones, meds, edibles and any other cannabis-related medication that patients donate towards.

Medical Marijuana Dispensaries vs Collectives

Dispensaries differ from collectives in numerous ways. One of the primary differences is their business model. Dispensaries are for-profit, whereas collectives are non-profit. They also sell marijuana to all qualified patients, rather than selling to members only.

Because it’s still illegal on local, state and federal levels (in most cases) to sell medical marijuana for profit, many dispensaries have either switched over to the collective (non-profit) model, or shut down for good.

Operating Collectives Legally

In many states, rules and regulations have been put in place to make it easier for people to start up collectives. Many countries and cities now have business licenses, taxes and fees in place specifically for medical marijuana collectives, so these operations can run legally according to state and local laws.

In states where only medical marijuana use is legal, most patients will obtain their cannabis-related medications through collectives. Dispensaries are still alive and well, but in some cities and states, it can be a challenge to keep them up and running.

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