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Articles Posted in Possession for Sale of Marijuana

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Possession of marijuana with intent to sell is a serious crime in California that is punishable by up to a maximum term of 3 years in “county prison” and a $10,000 fine. With the passing of the compassionate us act in 1996 California became one of the first states in the nation to legalize medical marijuana. The implementation of state legislation in January of 2011 decriminalized the simple possession of less than an ounce of marijuana in California and made it punishable as an infraction as opposed to a misdemeanor. Although California laws have loosened over the years with regard to possession of marijuana and more and more people can legally possess marijuana under California state law, the laws with regard to possessing marijuana with intent to sell are just as strict and punitive as in years past.

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Unfortunately it is very common to be falsely accused of possessing marijuana for sale in California. While state law has allowed more people to legally possess marijuana with a medical recommendation (up to 8 ounces) and has softened the penalties for those in possession of less then one ounce, law enforcement often mistakes simple possession for possession with intent to sell. Police will often form the opinion that someone possessed the marijuana for sale due solely to the fact that they had a relatively large amount of marijuana. While there may be many viable defenses in a case like this such as the person buys their marijuana in bulk, it is nevertheless troublesome to be charged with a felony and have to go through the legal process. Police will also arrest and charge somebody with possession for sale of marijuana in cases where the actual amount of marijuana is relatively small but it is broken up into individual baggies which they believe indicates and intent to sell. Again, this situation is entirely defensible. Perhaps the person bought several different types of unique marijuana and didn’t want to mix them up. Perhaps when they bought the marijuana it was already separated in these baggies and they never bothered to consolidate it. Maybe they like to measure out a certain amount of marijuana that they intend to smoke per day.

With the severe potential consequences of being convicted of possession of marijuana for sale combined with the ease that one can be falsely accused it is extremely important for anyone facing these charges in Southern California to consult with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney. A skilled and creative defense attorney will protect your rights and do everything possible to raise a viable and effective defense to these charges. If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges in Southern California you should immediately contact the law offices of Wallin & Klarich for a legal consultation. Call us now at 888-280-6839. We have offices in San Bernardino, Riverside, Los Angeles, Ventura and Orange County. We’ll be there when you call.

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Marijuana possession is a crime in California, except if you are medically prescribed marijuana and you used and possess it consistent with state and local law.

California protects the list of medical marijuana patients for patient confidentiality reasons. For instance, an employer could not normally check whether a potential or existing employee is being treated for an STD, because that would be an unacceptable intrusion on a person’s right to privacy.

But that’s not the end of the issue. Your employer may require you to submit to random drug tests as a condition of employment, in which case you must disclose your medical marijuana use or risk being fired once you test positive. Once you disclose your medical marijuana use, it is up to the employer to decide whether to fire or decline to hire you, because California courts have held that employers CAN legally discriminate against medical marijuana users.

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If you were cited or arrested for possession of marijuana in San Diego it is important to know the consequences you may be facing.In January 2011, the penalty for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana was changed from a misdemeanor to an infraction, meaning a possible fine of up to $100.00 (H&S Code § 11357; V.C. § 23222.). This means that you cannot face jail time for a first offense.  However, possession of any amount greater than 28.5 grams can still result in a misdemeanor conviction resulting in a maximum sentence of six months in jail and a five hundred dollar fine (H&S Code § 11357).For you to be convicted of possession of more than 28.5 grams of marijuana, the prosecution must prove that:

  1. You unlawfully possessed a controlled substance;
  2. You  knew of its presence;
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It was recently reported that probation conditions prohibiting marijuana apply when the restriction of marijuana is reasonably related to a defendant’s current criminal case.

In December 2006, Thomas Theodore Brooks was arrested after being found in possession of cannabis and methamphetamine. The trial court placed him on formal probation for three years. One of the terms of his probations required that he not be in possession of illegal drugs unless on the recommendation of a physician.

In January 2009, Brooks was arrested again after two pounds of marijuana was found in his car during a traffic stop. Although he had a physician’s recommendation for medical marijuana use, he was arrested for possession of marijuana for sale because of the quantity of marijuana he had. Instead of being charged separately for this offense, the prosecution moved to revoke Brooke’s probation. A probation violation hearing was held the following month. Brooks testified that the marijuana was for his personal use and the quantity he possessed was justified because he cooked the marijuana into a variety of foods instead of just smoking it. His doctor also testified on Brooks’ behalf, saying the medical marijuana was recommended for asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, and shoulder pain.

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Medical marijuana users and local governments are paying close attention to the ruling in Qualified Patients Association v. City of Anaheim (G040077). This is a case of first impression that is being heard by the Court of Appeal. The issue is whether local governments can enact regulations entirely prohibiting the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries.

California decriminalized medical marijuana in 1996 which is codified in Health & Safety Code Section 11362.5. The California Legislature enacted Senate Bill 420, also known as the Medical Marijuana Program in 2003. SB 420 established guidelines on using and distributing medical marijuana. It also created a state approved voluntary identification card system for patients. The medical marijuana identification cards assisted law enforcement in identifying whether a person legally or illegally possessed marijuana.

The Anaheim ordinance made it unlawful for any person or entity to own, manage, conduct or operate a medical marijuana dispensary within the city. The ordinance was the first law to give a definition to a medical marijuana dispensary. It states that a medical marijuana dispensary is any facility or location where medical marijuana is distributed or made available by or to three or more qualified patients, person with identification cards or primary caregivers. Violating the ordinance may result in an arrest and prosecution for a misdemeanor offense.

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It was recently reported that Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley will prosecute medical marijuana dispensaries for over-the-counter sales of marijuana. In Los Angeles County, patients with a doctor’s recommendation can go to a medical marijuana dispensary to purchase their medication.

The number of those purchasing cannabis with a doctor’s recommendation has steadily risen, increasing demand. With the increase in demand, the number of medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles has grown as well. District Attorney Cooley, along with City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, say they will target the nearly 800 dispensaries in Los Angeles that have opened since 2007. According to Cooley, there are more dispensaries in Los Angeles than the rest of the United States.

Advocates of medical marijuana say that prosecutors are misinterpreting the law, and that their actions will likely prevent sick patients from receiving needed medicinal care. Additionally, opponents to the prosecution of medical marijuana dispensaries argue that the District Attorney and City Attorneys should focus on the prosecution of serious and violent offenses, rather than focusing on dispensaries that provide medication to legitimate patients. Trutanich alleges that the dispensaries draw a criminal element, and at least one murder and nearly 200 robberies took place near a dispensary last year.

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California passed Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act (“CUA”), in 1996. The CUA allows patients and caregivers to possess and cultivate marijuana for the purpose of medical treatment. Despite the federal government’s continued ban on the possession of marijuana, the California state legislature enacted Health and Safety Code 11362.5 because of Proposition 215.

Sometimes law enforcement will happen upon a medical marijuana card that was issued, say a couple of years prior. Some police officers may assume that the card has since expired, and that the possessor no longer qualifies under the CUA. However, a medical marijuana recommendation does not expire. People v. Windus, 165 Cal.App. 4th (2d Dist. 2008). Windus essentially reasoned that a prescribing doctor cannot and should not presume to know when the patient’s (or caregiver’s) need for the marijuana will subside altogether. Some doctors will issue a medical marijuana card with a set expiration date. Arguably, per Windus, the expiration date set by the doctor should not automatically disqualify the patient under the CUA. Of course, this does not mean that once a person is issued a medical marijuana card he can legally possess marijuana in California for the rest of his life. The CUA still limits the legal possession of marijuana to what is reasonably required for the patient’s current medical needs.

A physician may issue a medical marijuana card to anyone whose “health would benefit from the use of marijuana” in the treatment of any illness.” The code actually lists eight separate illnesses that can legally be treated by marijuana, but then adds the catchall phrase, “or any other illness for which marijuana provides relief.” H&S Section 11362.5(b)(1)(A).

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Anyone charged with possession for sale of marijuana should speak with an experienced drug possession attorney in Southern California. Possession for sale of marijuana is a serious crime that comes with harsh penalties and consequences.

California Health and Safety Code Section 11359 makes it a felony for anyone to unlawfully possess marijuana for the purpose of sales. To be convicted under Section 11359, it needs to be proven that the defendant unlawfully possessed marijuana; the defendant knew of its presence; the defendant knew of the substance’s nature as a controlled substance; the defendant possessed a usable amount; and that at the time of the possession, the defendant had the intent to sell it.

With a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney on your side, you can raise certain defenses against this charge. A viable defense that may be available to you is submitting a motion to the court to suppress evidence of confiscated marijuana. If the evidence is shown to have been illegally obtained, the judge may decide not to admit it as evidence. This would likely result in the dismissal of the case against you. You may also be able to challenge the individual elements of the charge by claiming a lack of possession, knowledge of the drug’s presence or nature, presence of a usable amount, or the intent to sell.

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