In 2003, the Legislature adopted a bill that attempted to clarify the initiative, allowing patients and caregivers to "associate within the State of California in order collectively or cooperatively to cultivate marijuana for medical purposes" and exempting them from prosecution for selling, transporting and distributing pot.
The city attorney's office argues that these exemptions apply only to the act of cultivating marijuana, and not to selling it.
Medical marijuana advocates say that's ludicrous, that the Legislature meant to shield collectives from prosecution for selling, transporting or distributing their crop. The three council members who have devoted the most study to the issue appear sympathetic to that view.
"Whether the sales happen over the counter, under a basket or standing on their head, they're legal," said Don Duncan, California director of Americans for Safe Access.