Despite the laws in place to protect medical marijuana caregivers and patients, it is still possible to find yourself charged for possessing with intent to sell, cultivating, or transporting marijuana—even if you have a medical marijuana card.

Many law enforcement officers and prosecutors oppose the idea of marijuana’s legality, and some will arrest and charge you with a narcotics offense if given the opportunity.

Fortunately, a skilled attorney can defend your case by pointing to California’s medical marijuana laws. Jessica McElfresh has years of experience defending the rights of San Diego’s medical marijuana caregivers and patients, and has a proven track record of obtaining positive case results on behalf of her clients. Call her today at (858) 756-7107 to find out how she can help you.

Free consultation for criminal defense cases only. Dispensaries/collectives consultation requires a fee.

Which California Laws Protect Medical Marijuana Patients and Caregivers?

In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act (CUA), which set up the legal framework for medical marijuana. The CUA left many gray areas and allowed significant discretion for local authorities to set and enforce their own rules.

To put some order to this confusing and inconsistent legal landscape, subsequent legislation such as SB420 and some important court decisions were necessary to clarify the legality of some areas of the medical marijuana industry.

In October of this year, Governor Brown signed AB266 into law. Along with other bills, AB266 puts in place a complete overhaul California’s medical marijuana industry. For users and growers, this new law puts in place stronger protections than what exists under the current legal framework. In essence, AB266 keeps people with medical marijuana licenses from being subject to arrest, prosecution, sanctions, civil fines, or asset forfeiture.

How Do These Laws Apply to Marijuana Charges?

AB266 came into effect on January 1, 2016. As a result, medical marijuana patients and caregivers should no longer be arrested and charged with the following crimes:

  • According to California Health & Safety Code §11359, it was illegal to possess marijuana with the intent to sell. Regardless of the amount of marijuana in your possession, this offense was a felony that can involve a sentence between 16 months and three years in jail.
  • Under California Health & Safety Code §11358, a prosecutor may charge you with marijuana cultivation if there’s evidence that you planted, cultivated, harvested, dried, or processed a marijuana plant or any part of it. The sentence for this felony can reach three years in jail.
  • Giving away or transporting marijuana is illegal under California Health and Safety Code §11360. If convicted of transporting amounts over an ounce, you could face two to four years in county jail.

Depending on the jurisdiction in which you were arrested, you may be entitled to possess varying quantities of marijuana if you have a card. The baseline amount of marijuana you can possess with a medical card is eight ounces. It’s also legal to cultivate six mature or twelve immature cannabis plants.

San Diego, however, allows its legal medical marijuana users to possess up to one pound of marijuana and to cultivate up to twenty-four plants in 64 square feet of indoor space.

Although recent laws have altered these codes, officials may still arrest and charge you with these crimes. You need a skilled San Diego medical marijuana attorney to defend you against allegations and in court, if necessary.

Common Medical Marijuana Defenses

Your attorney can assert a medical marijuana defense on your behalf if he or she can demonstrate that you:

  • Had a valid medical marijuana card at the time of the arrest
  • The amount of marijuana you had was within the limit authorized by the jurisdiction in which the arrest took place
  • You did not intend to sell or give away the marijuana to someone not legally authorized to receive it

How a Skilled Marijuana Defense Lawyer Can Help

Medical marijuana patients and caregivers have many options for defending themselves against drug charges. A skilled attorney can help you assert defenses including:

  • Your status as a cardholder or legal patient
  • The prosecution’s use of incriminating evidence
  • Lack of probable cause
  • Illegal search and seizure
  • Unconstitutional arrest, detention, or interrogation

If the prosecution lacks admissible evidence to support the charges, it may be possible to have the judge dismiss the case even before the trial starts. This may be more effective and less stressful than going through the process of demonstrating to a jury that you were in legal possession of your marijuana during the trial.

The earlier you call a San Diego marijuana defense lawyer, the better your chances of avoiding a conviction. If you’ve been charged with a marijuana-related offense, you can call the McElfresh Law today for a free and confidential consultation of your case today a (858) 756-7107.

This website is intended for informational purposes only. Use of this website does not create an attorney-client relationship. Free consultation for criminal defense cases only. Dispensaries/collectives consultation requires a fee.

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