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Medical Marijuana Charges


California passed its medical marijuana law, the Compassionate Use Act, in 1996, and clarified it in 2004. But despite all of the time that's passed, some local police officers and prosecutors haven't gotten the message that medical marijuana is legal, safe and not a California state crime. In fact, the state Attorney General has explicitly said that California courts should not enforce federal marijuana prohibition laws, making it clear that local law enforcement has no business bringing federal drug charges. Nevertheless, some legitimate cooperatives and patients end up unfairly caught in the criminal justice system.

State law is very clear about the duties of medical marijuana patients, doctors and dispensaries, collectives or cooperatives. Simply put, nobody should be charged with a California state crime as long as they have obeyed the parts of the law that apply to them, including restrictions on amount possessed, transportation and sales. When there is no violation of state law, our Orange County medical marijuana defense lawyers should be able to get the case dismissed before trial. In other cases, people may be charged with crimes because they exceeded (or seemed to exceed) some part of the law, such as:

  • Dispensaries, collectives or cooperatives selling medical marijuana to patients without prescriptions, or to patients under 18
  • Selling medical marijuana without meeting the law's requirements
  • Patients reselling medical marijuana to patients without prescriptions
  • Possessing, growing or transporting more medical marijuana than the law allows
  • Using a false prescription or identification card to obtain medical marijuana
  • Profiting from the sale of marijuana

This can lead to charges of drug possession, possession with intent to sell, cultivation and distribution. (For details about these charges, please see our drug charges page.) In many cases, this can be the result of a mistake or an innocent action that was misinterpreted (intentionally or otherwise) by law enforcement. Some officers dislike any drug possession, no matter what the drug or how legal it is. You can and should defend yourself from this type of overzealous, overreaching behavior.

Another common charge related to medical marijuana is driving under the influence of drugs. This is not legal, even if you have a valid medical marijuana identification card. HOWARD LAW represents clients accused of driving under the influence, and we would be happy to coordinate defense against that charge with aggressive efforts to get unfounded marijuana possession or sales charges dismissed. Marijuana-related chemicals stay in the body for up to a month after consumption, which means you could be charged with a DUI even though you've been sober for several weeks.

If you have followed state medical marijuana laws, you should be able to expect law enforcement to follow them too. If you're facing charges anyway, our Riverside medical marijuana criminal defense lawyers can help. For a consultation, please contact Howard Law as soon as possible at 1-800-872-5925 or send us a message online.