California: Residency Requirement For Medical Marijuana May Be A Myth


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The residency requirement for legally getting a medical marijuana authorization in California doesn't really exist, according to at least two Bay Area lawyers who say the industry is misinterpreting state law.

Veteran marijuana lawyer William Panzer on Thursday confirmed the contents of a talk given by another attorney, Lauren Vazquez, to a group of entrepreneurs on January 22, reports David Downs at SF Gate.

"No, there is no residency requirement," Panzer said. "It's just misinformation."

"Why not?" Panzer said. "My wife hurt her ankle in Florida and had to go to the doctor for pain pills. They didn't say, 'Sorry, you don't live in Florida.'"

Almost all authorizing physicians and dispensaries in California enforce the residency requirement, turning away tens of millions of dollars in business each year by enforcing what looks to be a non-existent rule.

One of every 20 California adults is estimated to have used cannabis medicinally for a "serious" condition, and 92 percent of them believe it was helpful, according to recent polls.

Vazquez, speaking to about 30 marijuana investors, said that the preface to the 1996 Compassionate Use Act mentions "Californians," but the preface has no legal weight. This was confirmed by the California Supreme Court in a split ruling in 2013, allowing cities and counties to ban medical marijuana activity.

Vazquez said certain California physicians are already authorizing out-of-state patients in California for medical treatment. "I know of a few but they also want to stay private," she said.

“It’s just one of those things that somebody did and it got copied and everybody started doing it and now people are turning away a sizable percentage of their customers and patient base for no good reason,” Vazquez said.

"It's a legal gray area," said San Francisco attorney Brendan Hallinan. "If someone shows up with a passport and is in town to buy marijuana that's not enough. If they can show some proof of temporary residency for treatment and if they avail themselves of California law, I think you should be afforded protection."