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An organization of cannabis consumers or operators, including growers, extractors, or manufacturers, who share space to minimize costs. Cannabis co-ops and collectives were popular under the Compassionate Use Act in California in the days of medical marijuana, but were phased out there in 2019. Commonly, medical marijuana consumers would pool resources to grow and distribute cannabis to members in the co-op. Co-ops do exist today under new legislation, but they have stringent parameters on who can join.

“Cannabis co-ops are one way small growers can compete with corporate-funded farms.”

History of marijuana co-ops

Marijuana co-ops have existed in California since the 1990s as a means, under the Compassionate Use Act, or SB 420, for patients and their caretakers to access and share medical marijuana. Co-ops were informal groups until the opening of dispensaries in the 2000s, where many patients could congregate and access the same marijuana products. 

These kinds of co-ops no longer exist due to recreational cannabis laws in multiple states. Now, co-ops are dependent on state legislation; some states, such as Massachusetts, have designated licenses for co-ops, while others, such as Colorado, do not. 

Who can enter a co-op?

California’s 1996 Compassionate Use Act protected cooperatives and collectives to allow for legal and communal cultivation of medical marijuana. This could be a dispensary where patients and caretakers could purchase or grow cannabis for personal use. 

Co-ops today in California are groups of three or more small, licensed cultivators. They can collectively farm no more than four acres, but can pool resources for cultivation, packaging, and marketing of their products.