Marijuana Charge Defense Attorney in Southern California
Count on Our Skilled Attorney for Aggressive Representation
California’s medical marijuana law, the legislature’s reclassification of certain possession offenses as infractions, and the social acceptance of marijuana as a recreational drug have lulled many people into the belief that they will never be arrested for a marijuana crime. Those people are usually shocked when they find themselves in handcuffs and facing criminal penalties for a marijuana charge.
Marijuana continues to be classified as a controlled substance in California. Unauthorized possession or distribution of marijuana continues to be prosecuted. There were more than 13,000 felony arrests for marijuana crimes in California during 2012. More than 7,000 additional arrests were made for misdemeanors involving marijuana.
Marijuana convictions carry serious consequences that go beyond criminal penalties. Convictions can affect the ability to obtain employment, to obtain a professional license, to possess a firearm, and to serve in the military. Marijuana convictions can also affect immigration status.
Obtaining the assistance of a marijuana defense lawyer gives you the best opportunity of minimizing or avoiding the consequences of a conviction. Law Offices of Randy Collins has years of experience handling tough marijuana cases throughout Southern California.
California Marijuana Laws
Under California law, nearly all parts of the Cannabis sativa L. plant are illegal to grow or possess without authorization. Nearly anything that comes from the cannabis plant, including buds, leaves, seeds, resin, and the chemical THC, falls within the definition of marijuana and is subject to the same laws. Only mature stalks, sterilized seeds, and the oil produced from seeds are exempt from marijuana laws.
Patients and certain caregivers are entitled to possess or cultivate limited amounts of marijuana for medical purposes, provided they have a physician’s recommendation. Many people who believe they are protected by California’s medical marijuana law get into trouble when they sell marijuana that they obtained with a doctor’s approval. A doctor’s authorization to possess marijuana does not shield patients from prosecution for selling marijuana.
Other patients are arrested for growing or possessing more marijuana than the law allows. As a general rule, medical marijuana patients may possess up to 8 ounces or 6 mature plants, although communities are authorized to set higher limits and doctors can recommend larger quantities.
Many individuals in Southern California have been arrested for starting a cannabis collective or a marijuana dispensary that does not comply with state law. A collective, for example, must be operated as a nonprofit organization. Using a collective to make money selling marijuana often results in a serious felony prosecution.
Laws concerning medical marijuana are always changing, as are court interpretations of those laws. Local governments have taken inconsistent approaches to the regulation of medical marijuana dispensaries and collectives. For example, some communities have banned “storefront" dispensaries and delivery services while others have not. If you are charged with a crime involving your participation in a medical marijuana collective or dispensary, you need an experienced medical marijuana defense lawyer to help you sort through the confusion.
Defense of Marijuana Crimes
Law Offices of Randy Collins assists individuals who are arrested or prosecuted for all California crimes involving marijuana in Orange County, Riverside, San Diego, or Los Angeles, including:
- Sale of marijuana and possession with intent to sell marijuana: Defenses to these felony charges often exploit ambiguities in the evidence. For example, the marijuana may have been possessed for personal use rather than sale, or the accused may have been falsely accused by someone who is trying to protect the actual dealer.
- Distribution or transportation of marijuana: The distribution and transportation of more than one ounce of marijuana are California felonies. Transporting or giving away an ounce or less is a misdemeanor. Any distribution to a minor, however, is a felony.
- Cultivation of marijuana: Cultivation means growing, harvesting, or taking care of marijuana plants. The crime is a felony unless the cultivation complies with California’s medical marijuana laws. In many cases, a marijuana defense lawyer can negotiate a disposition involving a drug diversion program if the marijuana plants were (or might have been) cultivated for personal use.
- Possession for personal use: Possession of less than one ounce of marijuana for personal use is treated as an infraction rather than a crime. Possession of more than one ounce is a misdemeanor. Possessing large amounts creates the risk that the police will assume you possessed it for sale rather than personal use.
- Sale of marijuana paraphernalia: The sale of paraphernalia with the knowledge that it will be used to smoke marijuana is a misdemeanor. The penalties are more serious if a sale is made to a minor. Since paraphernalia that can be used to smoke marijuana can also be used to smoke tobacco, creating doubt about the seller’s knowledge is often the key to a successful defense of a paraphernalia charge.
- Marijuana driving laws: Driving under the influence of marijuana is a crime, just like driving under the influence of alcohol. A DUI is easier to defend when it involves marijuana because test results cannot reliably establish that a driver is “under the influence.??? Possession of marijuana while driving a vehicle is an infraction that may have consequences for driving privileges.
- Synthetic marijuana: The sale of synthetic cannabinoids, marketed under a variety of names that include Spice and K2, is generally treated as a misdemeanor. It is often difficult for the prosecution to prove that the substance is illegal since manufacturers regularly change the chemical composition in an attempt to avoid laws that criminalize its sale. As synthetic cannabinoids become more popular, however, California is likely to join other states in taking a more aggressive approach to prosecuting sales of the drug.
Get Help from an Experienced Marijuana Defense Lawyer
Randy Collins is a seasoned criminal defense lawyer who has a stellar reputation for helping individuals charged with marijuana crimes. He has been recognized as a Top Lawyer in Orange County. His practice now includes all Southern California, including Los Angeles County, San Diego County, and Riverside County.