California’s Cannabis Laws Killing Compassionate Care Programs


Workers at Sweetleaf’s booth at the 2010 International Cannabis and Hemp Expo at the Cow Palace explained how they help patients. [Photo by Kym Kemp]

Joe Airone has had to shut down Sweetleaf, a collective that delivers cannabis, mainly donated by growers in Humboldt, to seriously ill low-income patients. He says the closure of the collective he helped found in 1996, is an unintended consequence of California’s new Medicinal And Adult-Use Cannabis Regulatory Safety Act.

According to an article that came out in Forbes yesterday,

Under California’s legalization legislation, …cannabis businesses are required to pay taxes on all products, including donations and samples. There’s no way to dodge it: the law has implemented a track-and-trace system designed to follow all flower and cannabis products through the supply chain from cultivation to sale. Every step of the supply chain has its own tax requirements, too. So if a business doesn’t pay taxes on products, the Bureau of Cannabis Control will know….

Under current law, Airone would have to pay over $50,000 in taxes on 100 lbs cannabis he’s not making any return on. As a result, Sweetleaf has been forced to halt business, leaving 150 severely ill, low-income patients without cannabis.

Read more about the situation in the article on Forbes’ website. Sweetleaf has a petition to protect cannabis compassion programs here. You can read more at their Instagram account @sweetleafbayarea.



  • Is it compassionate to keep old folks stoned and out of it? we would be outraged if they were supplying them with booze and keeping them drunk.

    • You did read the article and understand this isn’t just old people but seriously chronically or terminally ill patients who are suffering, and cannabis Brings then relief and sometimes even returns to them some semblance of quality of life, right? …oh, but you’re probably one of those who don’t believe in the medicinal properties of cannabis and would rather have your family members hooked on body-ravaging addictive opioids drooling and incomprehensible while they suffer a chronic or terminal illness aren’t you?

    • I don’t see a difference in the”stoned” department between cannabis and pharmaceuticals, other than the fact that pharmaceutical are notoriously dirty, toxic, and overpoweringly strong. Oh, and expensive and often addictive.

      But medical cannabis is more than a happy-drug. It reduces pain, lowers inflammation levels, shrinks tumors, and reduces emotional stress, among other benefits. And it’s free to the patients assisted by Sweetleaf. What could possibly be objectionable, unless, of course, you’re just determined to object.

    • Well Sober.My mother just recently died .She joined Hospice .Soon After, They had her so doped up on other drugs like morphine , and methadone she could barley talk or move .So talk about doped up .They where only trying to alleviate her pain.But my goodness what is better or worse? She did use Cannabis and did help lower the heavy narcotic use.

      Legal narcotic are OK ?

    • I’d have to put on my researcher’s cap before speaking with confidence, but if I remember correctly, the mmj is available in various strengths of conscience manipulators from point 10 to 100 point. If Grandpa doesn’t care for the typical doobie high, there are better options available to him. If Grandma prefers a doobie high, then what business is it of ours if her mind escapes the pain along with her body?
      Booze spoils the organ market, but that too, should be a moot point when it’s the obligation of all individuals to respect the choices of all individuals.

  • I bet if some of these shit bag politicians could eat and f@ck money, they would.

  • Woohoo ok now that good black market majic can begin. Do I here 2500? More? Just give it some time. Like ,lol, a month.

  • Wait! So legalization isn’t working out for everybody?


    • I realize this probably holds some sort of meaning for you but, I keep hearing the word “free” thrown out as if it has meaning standing there all by itself. Could you add a few other words to possibly explain what you mean by that?

  • Flies in the Kitchen

    The “hippy drug” isn’t about compassion when you have huge growers and State agencies dancing together for a profit.

  • I think underground growers and the black market are here to stay.
    Leave it up to bureaucrats and taxes to screw up a good thing.

    • For you but not for everyone else who has been hijacked out of their earnings forever paying for things non tax payers used.

  • California and counties could be making a really good profit on an industry that is here to stay, but their greed and need to have total control has screwed it up. What we will be left with is what has been here for years. Illegal grows and not enough funding or man power to stop it. CAMP tried it years ago, and spent millions to get nowhere. Our elected officials are ruining an opportunity for employment and monetary profit.

  • Hey Sober, I think you live in fantasyland if you think old folks are getting stoned. It shows you don’t know anything about marijuana. Or you’re just being mean. They will feel better, feel less pain, get an appetite and maybe do some smiling or laughing. Is that so terrible? Nobodie’s getting stoned when they are older. I’m a friend of Bill’s and if you’re sober you may know what that means. Don’t be such a bully. Be kind. And stop being so judgmental.

  • Anyone can give those patients and oz for free from 6 plants allowed by law.Hook up those patients direct. I am a cancer patient and know what cannabis has done for me. They can only stop commercial growers from donating not personal use growers

    • We gave away more than 100 pounds last year. It is difficult to work under the Adult Use model. If we can only do an ounce at a time, it will take a rally long time to dispense that.

  • Drone pollinators inc.

    Democrats from Cali just wrote a letter whining about sessions rescind of the cole memo. Can not wait for the Reagan years to come back. Let the choppers fly.

  • #blackmarketmatters

  • HPRC in Arcata had a compassionate program for people with serious ailments. Unfortunately The new legislation and tax schedule has ended this compassion program.
    Cannabis is neuro-protective, a strong antioxidant and reduces neurological exciteotoxicity. This change directly affects my access to affordable medicine.
    Thanks to HPRC for their generosity in the past.

  • Wow! Who could have guessed that a wonderful legalization could do this?!!…. I did. And I said so right here. Others around me guessed he same thing. And no- it is not an “unintended consequence”. Are there people that still don’t get what just happened?! We the idiot voters just decided to let everything around medical and recreational marijuana be decided by a board to be appointed by the state of CA at a later date. And people thought that would somehow end up being cool?!! And now we are surprised, shocked even that every decision they make is 1) Destroying medical patients’ rights and access and 2) Destroying small growers while encouraging huge corporate growers… Y’all are a bunch of fools if you thought they like you. The medical patients’ issue will be resolved when pharmaceutical companies can make a profit off the low-income patients through some health-care system that uses our tax monies to reward the pharma producers and the distributors (Ted Simpkin?). Enjoy your wonderful “legalization”!!

  • 500 a lb tax on something that is free doesnt sound right. Guess the goverment wants to create jobs for folks to make min wage. As super high taxes like that leave very little to pay employees let alone make profit. And so soon we will hear how much we need illegal workers for this crop as well because it is work no one else wants. Fact is nobody can afford to work that cheap. Sad greedy goverment.

  • The beginning of the “medical marijuana” was growers let’s donate to those who cannot grow their needed medicine. It’s like I say “when your harvest is good thank the gods by giving something to the world from your heart.

  • This makes me so sad. I donated to these guys. I still have the paperwork. 🙁
    Their client base is definitely going to suffer, and I have no doubt people will die because of this. They are hardworking and their heart in the right place.

  • Nothing to see here

    The clients can hook up with someone and get it from the 6 plants allowed by law .I can give a oz to anyone old enough and they can not stop me . It’s allowed under the law

    • These patients live in urban centers and most of the time do not have enough energy to cook their own meals. It would be difficult for them to grow their own unfortunately.

  • Timothy McVeigh's ghost

    When Nevada leagalized in November 2016, they had regulations and a operating system in place by July 2017.
    Kalifornia… still fumbling around

  • So, this business does not make any profit? If not, maybe they should explore trying to establish some kind of non profit exemption. If not with the state, at least local government. If they’re making a profit, the next viable question is how much?, before determining weather or not 50,000 in taxes is unreasonable.

    • I know it’s hard to believe but some people chose to not blow up huge grows and make piles of cash, instead they used the medical mj laws to actually help out sick people. Yes- everybody said they were doing it for sick people while they made piles of cash and took expensive multiple vacations and bought expensive toys and multiple pieces of land and I found it hard to believe anybody since it seemed everybody was a lying scammer. But…the Sweetleaf people were righteous. My heart and support goes out to anybody who fights the good fight and does true community service. I piss on the greedmongers and greenrushers who tore up our community and environment while pushing our grow scene into the hands of the corporate raiders through sham “legalization”. Sweetleaf was a good thing.

    • We make no profit. Also we are not allowed to be a non-profit (501c3) as this is federally regulated and we handle a schedule 1 “drug”.

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