Without covering all the kinds of drug crimes out there (which get specific down to the type of controlled substance to the amount found or possessed), it’s best to think of what character of offense it is. Namely: Possession, Sales, Transportation, and Manufacturing. These have always been the big four and they have always overlapped in terms of what kind of evidence points to what. To be straightforward about this particular topic of criminal defense…talk to an experienced drug crimes lawyer. California’s drug laws are convoluted and byzantine, but we can break the laws down (and the drug’s history) for you.

The Law of Possession Charges

As with all controlled substances, possession alone can be enough to be arrested and charged (and on your criminal record). Notice the similarities in possessing marijuana and possessing methamphetamine. Health and Safety Code Section 11357 (Marijuana Possession):

  1. You must possess marijuana.
  2. You have knowledge of what it is.
  3. You know that it’s a drug.
  4. The amount must be a usable quantity.

Now compare this to possession of methamphetime: Health and Safety Code Section 11377:

  1. You must possess methamphetamine.
  2. You have knowledge that’s what it is.
  3. You know it’s a controlled substance.
  4. There is a usable amount of it.

Even though both charges have different consequences, the law of possession is mirrored in almost all of the substances

The Law of Transportation Charges

Transportation includes an extra element or two depending on whether you have been charged with simple sales or sales/transport. But notice the differences: Health and Safety Code Section 11360:

  1. You must unlawfully give away/transport a controlled substance.
  2. You knew of it’s presence.
  3. You knew the nature of that substance.
  4. That substance was marijuana.
  5. The amount you possessed was more than 28.5 grams.

Therefore, the state would have to prove that the amount was more than what’s considered personal use and there must have been an action taken that would indicate a “handing over” to another person.

The Law of Sales Charges

To be arrested or charged with Sales, you must have:

  1. possessed the substance;
  2. known of its presence;
  3. known the nature of the substance;
  4. when you possessed it you INTENDED to sell it;
  5. the substance was marijuana;
  6. it was a usable amount.

The Law of Manufacturing Charges

Unlawful Cultivation of Marijuana under H&S Code §11358 requires the law to show BOTH of the following:

  1. Defendant unlawfully planted/cultivated/harvested/dried/processed one or more plants.
  2. Defendant knew that the substance was marijuana.

The Compassionate Use Act

Keep in mind that given the examples above speak to Marijuana charges, it must be said that every charge above comes with a little disclaimer that the Compassionate Use Act may apply as a serious defense to any possession/transport/sales case given the circumstances of the evidence and a number of competing factors.

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