San Diego Marijauan Lawyer
Marijuana laws have become less serious over time, but recently California has lagged behind some of its peer states with regards to reforming marijuana laws.  When I worked for the Alternate Public Defender in San Diego, one of my clients was granted probation after being arrested with over 300 pounds of marijuana.  This would be impossible in much of the country.  Still, marijuana is still against the law in California.  Possessing marijuana for personal use and even selling marijuana may be lawful under California's medical marijuana laws, but can still lead to serious charges in court.  Possessing, selling and/or growing marijuana (even medical marijuana) can lead to serious charges.  Having a doctor's recommendation and/or belonging to a collective or cooperative may give medical marijuana patients certain privileges, but it is important to note that law enforcement officers have very little respect for a doctor's medical marijuana recommendation and the will of the California voters and legislators.

Possession of less than an ounce (28 grams) of marijuana (HS 11357(a)) is an infraction in California, punishable only by a money fine.  Possession of more than an ounce of marijuana (HS 11357(b)), or possession of marijuana concentrate (HS 11357(c)) are misdemeanors.  Prior to the passage of California's Prop 47 in November 2014, possession of marijuana concentrate, in any amount, was a "wobbler" and could be charged as a misdemeanor or felony.  As a felony, it was punishable by up to three years in prison.  Since Prop 47 passed, ALL simple drug possession offenses in California are misdemeanors.  Even as misdemeanors, marijuana possession offenses can carry some jail time, probation and fines.  Even smaller quantities of marijuana or marijuana concentrate can give rise to possession for sales charges, if the packaging and other facts (presence of scales, bags, buyers, etc.) support the sales element of the charge.

Possession of marijuana for sales (HS 11359) is a strict felony, punishable by up to three years in prison.  A felony conviction under this section can never be reduced to a misdemeanor.  Sales to a minor are even more severe, with a penalty of up to seven years in prison for selling marijuana to someone under the age of 15.  The charges are serious, but there are defenses.  In most drug cases, a motion to suppress evidence is going to be very important.  Asserting your fourth amendment rights and getting evidence thrown out because those rights were violated is one of the many ways your lawyer can help you with these charges.  Your lawyer can also take your case to trial to dispute whether there was any intent to sell, and negotiate for a lesser charge that does not lead to a permanent felony conviction.

HS 11358 makes it a felony to grow marijuana, even for personal use.  There are also serious offenses relating to the manufacture of marijuana concentrates, especially when employing a butane process.
  Marijuana cultivation is defensible, especially if there is a valid medical marijuana defense, or if the search leading to discovery of the grow operation lacked probable cause.  If you or a loved one is charged with a violation of Health and Safety Code 11358, cultivating marijuana, you need a passionate, aggressive and experienced San Diego Criminal Defense Lawyer.

Medical marijuana patients and members of collectives and cooperatives can assert special defenses to marijuana laws in California.  Proposition 215 passed in California in 1996 and made it legal for medical marijuana patients and their designated caregivers to possess and even cultivate marijuana for personal use.  This law initially did shield many patients from prosecution for possession offenses, but made access more difficult for medical patients.  This led to the passage of SB 420, which permitted .  Now, California medical marijuana collectives and cooperatives can grow larger amounts than would be permissible individually, and this is why medical marijuana dispensaries may possess more than the typical amount.  Recent caselaw also permits defendants to assert a medical marijuana defense for possessing more marijuana than traditionally permissible, if heavy use patterns and bulk discounts can help to explain the large quantity possessed.  This can apply to possession misdemeanors, infractions or felony possession for sale.

NOTE ON FEDERAL MARIJUANA LAW:  Marijuana is still illegal under federal law, but has been a low priority for federal law enforcement.  Drug enforcement has focused more on methamphetamine and prescription pills.  Smuggling marijuana into the country or even across state lines can still be a serious federal offense.
  Feds have typically targeted grows of more than 100 plants due to a 5 year minimum sentence in federal prison.  This has led many growers to cap production at 99 plants.

If you or a loved one has been arrested, charged with a crime, or may be under investigation for a crime in San Diego County, contact the Law Offices of Nicholas Loncar now for a free consultation with a San Diego Drug Crimes Lawyer and Marijuana Attorney.  Our office has experience defending serious drug crimes and doing motions to suppress evidence, which are key in California drug cases.  Schedule your consultation today, and we can discuss your case in detail, evaluate defenses and get started on a plan to protect your rights and liberty.

Nicholas M. Loncar, Esq.
San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney
San Diego DUI Lawyer
San Diego Sex Crimes Lawyer
By Nicholas Loncar   


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