Los Angeles Medical Marijuana Attorney
Charged with a medical marijuana offense?
If you have been arrested or charged with an offense relating to medical
marijuana in California, specifically possession, sale, transportation
or cultivation, you need to speak to an experienced
Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer to protect your rights. You need an attorney who has successfully defended
against these charges and has the knowledge to effectively fight your
case and win a dismissal. The criminal defense attorneys at Stephen G.
Rodriguez & Partners bring over 70 years of combined legal experience
and have successfully defended others charged with marijuana offenses
as well as other drug offenses.
Medical Marijuana Lawyer in Los Angeles
California was one of the first states to legalize marijuana for medical
use by passing Proposition 215 in 1996. The Compassionate Use Act, known
as "Prop. 215," is contained in Health and Safety Code section
11362.5, which states that criminal penalties for possession and cultivation
of marijuana shall not apply to a patient or a patient's primary caregiver
who possesses or cultivates marijuana for personal medical purposes on
the written or oral recommendation or approval of an "attending physician:"
a licensed osteopathic or medical doctor. The amount of marijuana possessed
and cultivated must be reasonably related to the patient's current
medical needs. A primary caregiver is someone who has consistently assumed
responsibility for the housing, health, or safety of a patient who may
legally possess or cultivate marijuana. The Compassionate Use Act also
permits patients and caregivers to transport marijuana for medical needs.
Health and Safety Code section 11362.765.
The California medical marijuana laws are complicated and continue to develop
and change. For example, the Compassionate Use Act does not confer immunity
to persons who supply patients and caregivers with marijuana. The sale
and possession of marijuana in California is still illegal and those arrested
are faced with
felonies including potential state prison sentences. Under federal law, medical
necessity is not recognized as a
criminal defense, and therefore selling, transporting or distributing marijuana for any
reason is a
federal crime. Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions about medical marijuana
and in a number of California counties, innocent people who have legitimate
medical documentation are still arrested, their marijuana is confiscated,
and they are charged and prosecuted for marijuana offenses.
Qualified Medical Marijuana Users
Every person does not have a right to use medical marijuana. According
to the California Medical Marijuana Laws (Health & Safety Code sections
11362.5 and 11362.7-11362.83), the person using the marijuana must be
a "qualified patient." To be a qualified patient, the marijuana
user's doctor must have determined that marijuana would provide relief
from the symptoms of the patient's illness. The law lists a variety
of illness (e.g., cancer, AIDS, anorexia, arthritis, cancer, chronic pain,
glaucoma, migraines, seizures, nausea), but also allows medical marijuana
treatment for any "illness for which marijuana provides relief."
See Health and Safety Code section 11362.7 (h)(12). Patients and the patients'
caretakers are covered by these laws.
Medical Marijuana Identification Card
Qualified patients and their caretakers can obtain a Medical Marijuana
Identification Card (MMIC) issued by the State Department of Health Services
identifying a person allowed to use marijuana and the primary caregiver.
Having a valid MMIC protects the individual from being arrested for drug
offenses related to medical marijuana unless there is reason to believe
that the information contained on the MMIC is false. If you do not have
a card, you are still protected by the Compassionate Use Act and the Medical
Marijuana Program Act, but police are given more leeway in making arrests
and confiscating your marijuana.
The California law as contained in Health and Safety Code section 11362.77
specifically states that a qualified patient or primary caregivers may
possess no more than eight (8) ounces of dried marijuana per qualified
patient or no more than six (6) mature or twelve (12) immature marijuana
plants per qualified patient. In 2010, the California Supreme Court (People
v. Kelly 47 Cal4th 1008) recently ruled that these limits were unconstitutional,
which in essence means that a qualified patient or primary caregiver could
have quantities beyond those limits if it could be established in court
that the quantity was reasonably related to their medical needs.
Medical Marijuana Collectives, Cooperatives and Dispensaries
California Medical Marijuana Laws also give patients/caregivers limited
rights to form collectives and cooperatives for the cultivation and distribution
of medical marijuana. According to the California Attorney General, specifications
exist for the operation of these collectives and cooperatives, including:
- Organization members must be qualified patients and caretakers
- Marijuana cannot be distributed to non-members
- The organization must be non-profit; marijuana can be distributed for free
in exchange for services or for a fee calculated to cover the expenses
of the organization.
In addition, cities and counties throughout California have adopted their
own ordinances that regulate collectives, cooperatives and dispensaries.
Medical Marijuana Penalties
If you are arrested for using, possessing, growing, transporting, selling
or distributing marijuana and your circumstances are not covered by the
California Medical Marijuana Laws, you will be subject to prosecution
under the various California Marijuana Laws that apply to recreational
use. The penalties for these crimes range from a citation (like a traffic
ticket) for being in possession of less than an ounce to a seven year
sentence in a state prison for selling marijuana to a minor.
Additionally, the Medical Marijuana Program Act (MMPA) makes it illegal to:
- Lie about a medical condition for the purpose of falsely obtaining a medical
marijuana identification card.
- Steal or fraudulently use another person's identification card in order
to acquire, possess, cultivate, transport, use, produce, or distribute
- Counterfeit, tamper with, or fraudulently produce an identification card.
- Breach the confidentiality requirements of the law.
A first MMPA offense is punished by up to six months in the county jail
and/or a maximum fine of $1,000. Second and subsequent offenses are punished
by up to one year in the county jail, and/or a maximum fine of $1,000.
If you have been wrongfully arrested, our experienced and skilled criminal
defense attorneys will do all that is possible to get your marijuana case
dismissed prior to trial by presenting the prosecution with evidence that
you are a qualified patient or caretaker. If your case does go to trial,
rest assured that we will use your qualifications under The Compassionate
Use Act as an affirmative defense. We can also file to have your marijuana
returned to you. Let us put our 70 years combined legal experience to
work for you! We have successfully defended many individuals charged with
drug-related crimes and will answer your questions and explain your rights
and legal options so that ultimately you can make the right decision to
protect your future.
Protecting Your Rights Under Prop 215
Call our office to schedule a free one-on-one confidential consultation
to discuss your legal situation. Let us put our 70 years of combined legal
experience to work for you. We have successfully defended many individual
charged with drug-related crimes. We will answer your questions, explain
your rights and legal options so that ultimately you can make the right
decision to protect your future.
To be a part of a law firm with successful strategies to protect your rights, contact a Los Angeles medical marijuana attorney