California’s Proposed Marijuana Legislation

Keeping up with the momentum of Oregon, Alaska, Washington D.C. and Florida this past election year, Assemblyman Ken Cooley (D Rancho Cordova) recently proposed Assembly Bill 266, which would legalize recreational marijuana in California.  The bill would set up a statewide regulatory scheme on marijuana while allowing local jurisdictions to regulate the licensing of medical marijuana growers and dispensaries.  Marijuana policy reform in California has been attempted multiple times throughout the years.  This bill was backed by the California Police Chiefs Association last year, and will be the second time it will be proposed.

Criminal Laws on Marijuana

While the proposed bill, if passed, would legalize marijuana to an extent, the possession of marijuana is currently decriminalized in California to some degree, with possession of up to 28.5 grams considered an infraction with a fine of $100.  Possession of over 28.5 grams is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months imprisonment and a maximum fine of $500.  See California Health & Safety Code § 11357.  However, possession with intent to distribute any amount of marijuana is a felony punishable by 16-36 months imprisonment. See California Health & Safety Code § 11359 and § 1170(h). The actual sale or delivery of any amount of marijuana is a felony punishable by 2-4 years imprisonment. See California Health & Safety Code § 1136.

The CA Compassionate Use Act

The CA Compassionate Use Act (aka Proposition 215) allows for qualifying patients to obtain a medical marijuana card as part of the California Dept. of Public Health’s Medical Marijuana Identification Card (MMIC) program to possess marijuana.  There is no possession limit and it allows for home cultivation, although the cultivation limits are not specified. To qualify for an MMIC, one must be diagnosed with:

  • AIDS; anorexia; arthritis; cachexia (wasting syndrome); cancer; chronic pain; glaucoma; migraine; persistent muscle spasms (i.e., spasms associated with multiple sclerosis); seizures (i.e., epileptic seizures); severe nausea; any other chronic or persistent medical symptom that either substantially limits a person’s ability to conduct one or more of major life activities as defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

This means that those covered by the CA Compassionate Use Act may not be charged with possession of marijuana.  It is still illegal to sell marijuana, even with possession of an MMIC.

San Diego Drug Defense Attorney  

There are possible defenses to charges of marijuana crimes, such as:

  • Showing you had a valid medical marijuana card;
  • Showing that you did not have an intent to sell or distribute the marijuana; or
  • Showing that you did not sell, not rather gifted it to someone, which reduces the penalty to a misdemeanor.

Penalties for a drug crime conviction can be serious and can include fines, jail time, prison time, suspension of one’s driver’s license, the seizure of assets, probation, drug treatment, and having to register as a narcotics offender.  This includes crimes related to marijuana.  Do not try to fight drug charges alone.  The Law Offices of David M. Boertje have successfully represented many defendants charged with a drug crime, including defendants charged with the sale or distribution of marijuana.  If you have been charged with a marijuana-related crime, contact attorney David Boertjie today.