As cannabis reform has spread across the United States, it has given birth to a marketplace increasingly driven by business interests. This is the fourth installment in our series looking at how the changing landscape of cannabis policy affects a key group of often-overlooked stakeholders: medical marijuana patients who choose to cultivate their own supply of cannabis. Go here for the home grown laws in Washington and Oregon, here for the laws in California and Alaska, here for the home grown laws in Michigan and Illinois, and here for the laws in New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont, here for the laws in Hawaii, New Mexico and Nevada, and here for Colorado and Montana. Though there are undeniably many benefits to the expansion and professionalization of the commercial cannabis industry, it is also important to account for these small-scale medical marijuana producers that started it all.
Arizona. Arizona approved medical marijuana in 2010 with Proposition 203, which allows qualified patients access to cannabis. Qualifying cannabis patients under the age of 18 must designate their parent or guardian as a designated caregiver to obtain cannabis on their behalf. Qualified cannabis patients or their designated caregiver can cultivate marijuana at their residence only after being licensed by the state. Cannabis patients and caregivers will only be licensed to cultivate their own marijuana if the patient lives more than 25 miles from the nearest state-licensed dispensary. Once approved, a qualified patient or caregiver is permitted to possess up to 12 plants. The plants must be kept in a locked and enclosed space. From these plants, a patient may possess up to 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana in a 14-day period.
District of Columbia. The District of Columbia also approved medical marijuana in 2010 by city council vote approving Amendment Act B18-622. DC moved to legalize recreational cannabis in 2015 despite some meaningful pushback from Congress. DC law currently permits adults 21 years of age and over to possess up to 6 marijuana plants, only three of which may be mature. Up to 12 plants can be grown in a house with more than one adult over 21 years of age, with up to six mature plants. Personal marijuana cultivation must be done within one’s own residence and is not allowed in public housing.
Massachusetts. Massachusetts first approved medical marijuana in 2012 by ballot measure. The state is home to some of the most distinctive and interesting home cultivation laws in the country. Patients may only cultivate their own marijuana with a hardship cultivation registration, which requires the cannabis patient prove their access to a registered dispensary is limited by at least one of three factors. First, a patient can provide verification that obtaining cannabis from a registered dispensary presents a financial hardship. Alternatively, a patient can establish a lack of transportation to a registered dispensary and the lack of a caregiver that will deliver to their home. Finally, patients can submit that there is no registered dispensary within a reasonable distance from their home. To actually obtain a hardship cultivation registration, patients must submit paperwork describing their situation with proof establishing their need to cultivate at home and their inability to get cannabis from a registered marijuana dispensary. Once granted registration, cannabis patients may cultivate no more than the required number of cannabis plants sufficient for a two-month supply and they must keep their plants in an enclosed and locked facility.