With the legalization of marijuana and the overall shift in the stance towards drugs, California has aligned with the more progressive states and countries of the world.
That is not to say that drugs are decriminalized like Portugal did in 2001. Instead, California law still imposes sanctions on those who use and distribute drugs but takes a lighter approach to those who are found with only small amounts of illicit substances.
Experienced criminal attorneys at Monder Criminal Lawyer Group explain some of the changes which were implemented in the last few years, and especially since the legalization of marijuana in January of this year.
Possession Is Not the Same as Possession with Intention to Sell
This is an important distinction which needs to be made from the get-go. If someone is caught with a larger volume of an illicit substance and/or with other circumstantial evidence that they were trying to sell drugs (like having precise scales, baggies, and similar items), this person is much more likely to face more severe charges of possession with the intention to sell.
If you want to learn more about possession with the intent to sell, consult this article https://www.monderlaw.com/pratice-areas/drugs/possession-for-sale.
Possession of Marijuana
As mentioned before, marijuana has been legalized for recreational use by all individuals without any criminal charges, provided that they are at least 21 years old, just like with alcohol.
However, this substance is still controlled, which means that there are some caveats to this rule. The marijuana needs to be purchased legally, at a certified dispensary and you cannot have more than one once of it on your person at any time. This is considered personal use. Anything else might land you a charge for possession with the intention to sell, which is still a felony.
Possession of Methamphetamine
In the past, the possession of this dangerous and very addictive drug was strictly penalized and it was classified as a felony. The addictiveness of the drug as well as the behavior of those under the influence of it has convinced the lawmakers to crack down on it hard.
However, the Proposition 47 changed all that. Being arrested for the possession of a small amount of methamphetamine is no longer a felony, but a misdemeanor. That being said, any larger quantity will trigger a possession with the intention to sell, which is a felony, just like with marijuana.
Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
Even if you don’t have any drugs on you, you may still be charged for drug-related crimes by overzealous police officers if they find anything they consider a drug paraphernalia item.
These include the standard bongs and pipes, but can also be extended to syringes, needles or cocaine spoons.
These charges typically warrant only misdemeanor charges, with up to six months in the county jail, but there are ways around this charge and the potential subsequent sentence. For instance, you could apply for a program under the Prop 36, or you can have your attorney contest the charges.
If the items were found as a part of an illegal search of your body or your property, that might disqualify any proof the police have against you.
Drug-related crimes have been severe in the whole country for a very long time, and they have damaged the opportunities of countless people during that time.
However, California is giving people some leniency in order to improve the lives of its citizens.