We are a species whose constituent members (that is, “We, the People”) are often in search of self-transcendence. Among the many methods of self-transcendence is narcotic or drug use. Drugs are outlawed by the government in the same way alcohol was forbidden to be possessed for personal use or sale, used, sold, transported or made during prohibition. However, knowing that does not particularly help our clients, who are often charged by the District Attorney or the United States Attorney with any number of drug or narcotic offenses listed in the Penal or United States Code.
It generally is illegal to be under the influence of, possess, transport, sell, offer to sell, give away, possess for the purposes of sales, or manufacture drugs identified as controlled substances by the government.
Most state court drug charges are found in the California Health & Safety Code. Among many others, they include: section 11550 (under the influence of a controlled substance), section 11350 (generally possession of cocaine or heroin), section 11351 (generally possession of cocaine or heroin for sale), section 11351.5 (possession of cocaine base [crack cocaine] for sale), section 11352 (transportation or sales of cocaine or heroin), section 11357 (possession of marijuana), section 11358 (cultivation of marijuana), section 11359 (possessing marijuana for sale), section 11360 (transportation or sale of marijuana), section 11377 (possession of methamphetamine), section 11378 (possessing methamphetamine for sale), section 11379 (transportation or sales of methamphetamine). Since the November 2014 passage of Proposition 47, most cases in California State Court of simple possession of a controlled substance are misdemeanors.
Defending these crimes often involves careful examination of the means by which the government discovered and seized the drugs or evidence of drug sales. Illegal searches and seizures are prohibited by both the United States and California Constitutions. I have extensive experience in exploring and contesting the means by which the government discovered and subsequently seized the narcotics that they intend to use in evidence against a defendant or defendants at trial.
The State of California has also created provision for the lawful possession, use, cultivation and sales of marijuana under certain circumstances, even though it continues to be prohibited by the federal government. In November, 1996, California voters passed Proposition 215, an initiative known as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, codified in Health and Safety Code section 11362.5. The law decriminalizes the cultivation and possession of marijuana when used pursuant to the recommendation or approval of a licensed physician.
On January 1, 2004, the State Legislature enacted SB 420, the Medical Marijuana Program Act (MMP), codified at Health and Safety Code section 11362.7 et seq. The MMP expressly provides a medical marijuana defense to the charges of violating Health and Safety Code sections 11359 (possession of marijuana for sale), 11360 (transportation, sales of marijuana), 11366 (maintaining a place for drug use, possession, and/or sales), 11366.5 (providing a place for the manufacture/distribution of a controlled substance), and 11570 (buildings subject to abatement). (See, Health and Safety Code sections 11362.765, and 11362.775.) The MMP further specifically permits patients and qualified caregivers of patients to collectively or cooperatively cultivate marijuana for medicinal purposes and excludes those individuals form criminal sanctions under sections 11357, 11358, 11359, 11360, 11366.5, or 11570. (See, Health and Safety Code Section 11362.775). Your attorney should be aware of the defenses available when the government decides to prosecute you (or a loved one) for marijuana crimes. I am and I am ready to help you.
Addiction treatment often plays a major role in the way drug cases are resolved. Programs to treat addiction are readily available and I have experts who help select the right programs for my clients and present their recommendations to the courts. Many chemically dependent clients will not benefit from incarceration. They need treatment. They need to get the tools that will enable them to live drug or alcohol free, get a job, and get back on track. Although treatment will not work for everyone, it has been a very special component of my practice, and the folks who have benefitted and changed their lives should give everyone hope.