California Laws Regarding Illicit Drugs in 2019

The State of California is one of the largest and most populous states in the nation. With its many transportation corridors and shared borders with Mexico and a short drive to Canada, a vast amount of drugs flow in and out of the state on a daily basis. There are numerous laws that have been passed over time in an effort to stop the flow of drugs in the state. These laws attempt to hinder or stop the distribution and diversion of illicit drugs and also serve to minimize drug abuse and related criminal offenses.

If you are being charged with drug possession in the State of California, it is important to know what the state has to say about drugs with respect to the following:

  • Possession of the type of drug,
  • Possession of the drug with the intent to sell or distribute,
  • Trafficking or drugs, and
  • Manufacturing, growing, and/or production of illicit drugs

There are different penalties for drug-related crimes and these could range from probation and fines to hefty jail sentences.

The Possession, Distribution, and Trafficking of Illicit Drugs

In 2014, Proposition 47 implemented changes to the Uniform Controlled Substances Act in the State of California. This proposition relaxed a few drug possession laws, which displaced felony charges to lesser sentences, ultimately decriminalizing the possession of a majority of illegal substances.

There are three predominant categories for drug charges in California:

  1. Infractions, which do not typically involve harsh penalties or jail time
  2. Misdemeanors, which involve minor consequences
  3. Felonies, which will demand jail time and harsh penalties

Under Prop 47, the simple possession of a controlled substance was officially classified as a misdemeanor offense, and it only allowed for up to a year in county jail and/or penalties including community service and fines up to $1,000.

Under the California Health & Safety Code Section 11350, simple possession of the following substances are considered a misdemeanor:

  • Cocaine
  • Heroin and opium derivatives
  • Schedule III hallucinogens
  • Synthetic cannabis

Misdemeanor offenses, however, can increase to felony charges if the defendant is a registered sex offense or has otherwise already been convicted of other serious felonies such as rape and attempted murder.

The Legalization of Marijuana

In 2016, voters in California legalized the recreational use of marijuana under Prop 64. This proposition decriminalized the simple possession and growing of the plant for those 21 and over.

With Prop 64, an adult can possess up to one ounce of marijuana for recreational purposes only. Those over the age of 21 can also grow a maximum of six (6) plants for personal use.

It should be noted that each city and/or county has separate municipal codes that could further restrict the use of recreational marijuana use. Additionally, it is also against the law to operate a vehicle with an open container of marijuana, driving under the influence of marijuana, or consume it while operating a vehicle.

If You Have Been Charged With Drug Possession, Seek Legal Support Immediately

Drug laws are changing across the nation and California has moved toward the decriminalization of certain types of drug use. If you have been charged with drug possession in California, seek the skills and support of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

The attorneys at Milligan, Beswick, Levine, & Knox, LLP are committed to representing the rights and interests of those who have been charged with drug possession in the State of California. The firm will review the facts and evidence of each case and determine what defense is best for the client.