Marijuana/Cannabis Possession and Sales

Laws surrounding marijuana possession have undergone tremendous change in the past few years. As an Orange County marijuana possession defense attorney, I have represented hundreds of people in marijuana cases over the last two decades and am pleased to report that the courts are not punishing possession of less than an ounce of marijuana in California, under the right circumstances, at all anymore. You should know that under the Compassion Use Laws anyone possessing a legitimate prescription for the use of medical marijuana along with a validly issued medical marijuana card, may possess eight ounces of dried cannabis per patient.

Simple possession of marijuana is punishable by a fine only in California. The fine is $100 plus other court fees. It is important to note that if you are under 21 and possess marijuana; you can lose your license for a year. A qualified OC marijuana defense attorney should know how to avoid a DMV penalty.

If you have more than an ounce on you when you are arrested, the charge can be filed as a misdemeanor with potential jail time. The courts offer a deferred entry of judgment program (DEJ) and it is very rare for first time offenders to get any custody time. Frequently, these charges can be reduced with competent lawyering to a simple possession charge and ultimately dismissed.

If you have hashish, which the courts call “concentrated cannabis” the penalty can be either county jail or state prison, depending on the amounts and the circumstances. Again, deferred entry of judgment is available as well as Proposition 36. A marijuana possession defense attorney in Orange County can help you explore your options.

Possession with intent to sell

As in any criminal case, the facts of your specific case have a big influence on whether or not the DA can and should charge your case as a sales type case. Please remember that sales can also mean giving marijuana away or exchanging it for something else. The punishment for possession of sale can include probation, county jail time or state prison, depending on the facts of the case. Success in defending possession with intent to sell cases hinges upon persuading a court that the client only possessed the marijuana for personal use and to minimize the importance of other items found during the arrest, such as rolling papers, baggies, scales, smoking devices, etc. Of course, it is quiet common for clients to make admissions to the police that they intended to give it away or sell it. This makes it more difficult to resolve the case, but not impossible. If a person has limited or no criminal past, this will be more favorable. The prosecution looks for things like large amounts of cash, lists of potential customers and money owed to them (pay/owe sheet).

Cultivating marijuana

Under Penal Code Section 11358, if you are planting or cultivating or harvesting marijuana without Compassionate Use protections, you could be facing jail time including state prison and fines. 99 out of 100 times, people are given probation but it’s dependent on the number of plants you have, their size and the amount you are growing. On occasion, as a marijuana possession defense lawyer in Orange County, I have got clients into a diversionary program or other creative solutions.

It is important to note that, while California has adopted an enlightened approach to marijuana, the U.S. does not share that perspective and is prosecuting federally for prosecution. The sentencing federal laws have been described as draconian by many. This applies to cultivation cases as well. Police, whether state or federal, have adopted a variety of techniques to seek our and arrest people growing large amounts of marijuana. Often times, someone who has a grow room in their home is consuming significantly more energy than their neighbors and that can be seen by law enforcement. Sometimes neighbors will report their own observations to the police as well. Police will then come out and if they can observe signs of marijuana cultivation going on (looking over fences, through trash) that may give them enough information to get a search warrant to look at electric bills ad possibly gain access to the house to do a more thorough search.

For those who can’t qualify for a DEJ or no dismissal of charges, Orange County marijuana possession defense lawyer William Weinberg has to get his clients approved for treatment under prop 36. If the client successfully completes prop 36 (testing, attending meetings and court hearings), he or she can look forward to the case being dismissed.