Cannabis, also known as marijuana, is considered a dangerous controlled substance and is, in fact, listed on the U.S. government’s strictest drug Schedule under the Controlled Substances Act: Schedule I. Marijuana, which is prepared from the Cannabis plant, has both (illegal) recreational and medicinal uses, creating some controversy over its place on the Schedule I list of substances. As a rule, Schedule I only includes drugs with a high potential for abuse and a lack of accepted safety for use, as well as no currently accepted medical use. The latter, which may have been the case at one time, is no longer the case now. In fact, medical marijuana programs have been legally established across 16 states and the District of Columbia since 1996, when California became the first U.S. state to legalize medical marijuana with a 56 percent affirmative vote. The question then becomes, when is marijuana illegal and when is it authorized?
The existence of medical marijuana laws does not mean that law enforcement is any less aggressive when it comes to arresting marijuana offenders. In fact, it is more likely to be the opposite in order to ensure that people do not take advantage of the medical marijuana program. If you are arrested for a marijuana offense in California, you face serious penalties. Hiring an experienced Orange County drug crime defense lawyer can ensure that you are not unlawfully charged or convicted.
Marijuana Offenses in California
Marijuana offenses are established under sections 11357 through 11361 of the California Health and Safety Code. All of the following offenses, unless authorized by law, are considered marijuana crimes and are punishable in criminal court:
- Possession of any concentrated cannabis;
- Possession of any amount less than 28.5 grams of marijuana (excluding concentrated cannabis);
- Possession of any amount more than 28.5 grams of marijuana (excluding concentrated cannabis);
- Possession of any amount less than 28.5 grams of marijuana by a person over the age of 18 on the grounds of a school;
- Possession of any amount less than 28.5 grams of marijuana by a person under the age of 18 on the grounds of a school;
- Selling, distributing, dispensing, furnishing, administering, or giving any synthetic cannabinoid compound or derivative, or offering to do any of these things, to any person;
- Planting, cultivating, harvesting, drying, or possessing any marijuana or any of its parts;
- Possessing marijuana for sale;
- Transporting, importing, selling, furnishing, administering, or giving away any marijuana, or offering or attempting to do any of these things;
- Using a minor in the unlawful transport, carry, sale, give away, sale preparation, or peddling of any marijuana;
- Selling or offering to sell any marijuana to a minor; and
- Furnishing, administering, giving any marijuana to a minor, or offering to do so.
What Are the Penalties for Marijuana Crimes?
Depending on the offense committed, a marijuana offender may be charged with a misdemeanor or felony and, upon conviction, be subject to a number of penalties, including imprisonment in county jail, or state prison, for up to three years, fines up to $1,000, completion of a drug treatment program, community service, and probation. Repeat offenses and other aggravating factors may increase these penalties.
Protecting Your Future with Effective Legal Representation
Having a drug charge on your record can follow you for the rest of your life, regardless of the type of drug. Although marijuana is not as dangerous as many of the other illegal substances out there, it is still strictly enforced and prosecuted. If you have been arrested for a marijuana offense in California, contact the aggressive Irvine drug crime defense lawyer David A. Stein to learn more about your legal rights and options. Mr. Stein has the skills and resources to effectively protect your rights and your future. Call today for a consultation at (949) 445-0040.