Guest Post by Victor Pinho, Berkeley Patients Group


Founded in 1999, Berkeley Patients Group (BPG) was established to provide the purest, most effective, and affordable medical cannabis in the San Francisco Bay Area. For over 15 years it has successfully done that. Credited with creating and maintaining the highest standards of quality and excellence in the cannabis industry, BPG’s work in regulating itself during a time when few or no regulations existed has catapulted this humble Berkeley institution into the spotlight across the nation. BPG has become the case study the industry looks to for proof that good regulation works.

One could argue that since the passage of Proposition 215, availability and access to safe, quality medicine has never been better. Many counties and municipalities throughout the state have taken the initiative to establish regulatory models that allow for safe access. However, these laws vary greatly across all these localities, are inconsistent and are not comprehensive.

With all the buzz around regulating California’s thriving cannabis industry at the ballot box in 2016, patients and adult users alike are wondering what the future of cannabis will hold for the Golden State. Can the state that led the charge for access to legalized medical cannabis over 18 years ago transition into a functional regulatory model?

One city in California has embraced taxing and regulating medical cannabis and the results have been overwhelmingly positive.

The City of Berkeley has historically been a place of progressive ideas. Since the 1960s, Berkeley has nurtured a lot of the forward thinking ideals and policies that have gone on to shape the United States into the nation it is today. With respect to the medical cannabis industry, the Mayor and the City Council have had a longstanding record of support and empowering their patient community.

The pioneering spirit that founded this great state exists in our marijuana microcosm, and has arguably led to innovation and progress on all fronts—especially from a legal and regulatory standpoint. Examples of Berkeley-specific regulations include: strict testing requirements for all cannabis flowers, extracts, and infused products; packaging standards; zoning regulations for dispensaries; and, even a mandatory program to give free medicine back to the low income patient-members in the Berkeley community. Berkeley Patients Group was instrumental in developing and self-imposing many of the best practices that became Berkeley’s regulatory system.

But nearly two decades after California legalized the use of cannabis for medical purposes, the “green rush” is still rushing. The state is about to embark on the toughest regulatory challenge of our lifetime. As regulation continues to spread across the country, Berkeley Patients Group will prove to be a model for the industry and set the bar for industry best practices and corporate social responsibility for marijuana retail businesses nationwide.