Call it a “collective” or “cooperative” instead, and that should get you on your way to legally running a pot clinic, according to a two-day seminar on starting up a medical marijuana business that began in Burbank on Saturday.
The seminar, put on by 420 College, a Fresno-based marijuana industry training group, aims to provide the latest information on fast-changing pot laws and regulations for medical marijuana businesses.
“I’m not telling people to evade taxes, not one person to go around the book,” said 420 College founder George Boyadjian, who added that he has helped open about 50 collectives in California and one in Las Vegas. “We’re telling people how to go in a straight arrow.”
The class – which costs $250 a head – sought to cut through a haze of legal issues for an eclectic mix of about 15 people attending the session in a small meeting room at Burbank’s Holiday Inn.
“The laws – that’s the important thing. How not to get in trouble,” said Joseph Jimenez, a Pico Rivera resident hoping to open a collective in Santa Fe Springs.
“With the economy slowing, it’s kind of hard to get a job.”
About one in 15 attendees end up opening shops, Boyadjian claims.
Among the other legal advice offered at the seminar: Don’t take donations because they can’t be taxed and can bring trouble for collectives, whichare supposed to operate as nonprofit organizations. Keep good records.
And if the Drug Enforcement Agency gets involved, well, there’s not much you can do about it.
“It’s very informational,” said a Pomona man looking to expand his pot delivery service who only wanted to be identified as Christian S. “You can get your bread and butter out of it.”
Including cannabis butter, used to make edibles, which will be among the topics discussed today. Also on the menu: pot ointments, cultivation and soil types to grow the best weed for your potential business.
But just don’t try opening one inside Los Angeles city limits, where officials have cracked down on a proliferation of pot shops, slashing the number from about 600 clinics to about 130.
Boyadjian insists on using the term “collective,” because it is defined by the state attorney general’s guidelines, while the word “dispensary” is not.
Boyadjian said the seminars are held throughout the state. He says only two of the collectives he has helped open have ever had any legal troubles.
Although growers usually sell pot to a collective, which in turn sells the weed to its members, a Superior Court judge last April shut down a popular Venice collective, ruling that it could not operate as a retail store selling marijuana to the collective’s members. Qualified members must perform labor necessary to cultivate and harvest marijuana for the group’s benefit, according the ruling.