Los Angeles Federal Marijuana Defense Lawyers
Although marijuana is legalized in California for medical and recreational use, it is still a Schedule I drug under federal law. Both possession and distribution of marijuana are illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act. Possession of even a small amount of marijuana with no intent to sell is a misdemeanor under federal law, punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.
When a conflict exists between state and federal laws, federal law prevails. Provided you abide by the laws of the state in which you live and do not sell marijuana across state lines, federal law enforcement may not choose to prosecute. But there is still a risk of federal criminal charges for medical marijuana patients and business owners in California.
California residents can find themselves facing marijuana charges in various situations.
- Business owners: Even fully licensed marijuana dispensaries can be raided by the DEA. (As a side note, despite the fact that medical marijuana was legalized in California in 1996 and has grown into a multi-billion-dollar industry, business owners may find it challenging to obtain licensing and financing. Banks and other lending institutions are not permitted to grant loans to legitimate marijuana dispensaries because of the drug’s federal Schedule I status.)
- Medical marijuana patients: Medical marijuana cardholders are legally allowed to buy, use, and transport marijuana for personal use. Under federal law, a legitimate cardholder could be arrested and charged with possession.
- Transporting cannabis: You can purchase one ounce of marijuana at a time, or eight grams of edibles or other marijuana products, under current state law. But when you take it home, open container laws designed to curtail drinking and driving also apply to marijuana.
- Outside the home: Smoking marijuana is not permitted outside the home, while driving, or in open areas such as public parks, at concerts or events, or in any area outside the home.
- Selling marijuana: Possession of marijuana with intent to sell remains a serious crime in California. If a firearm is found on your person, the penalties are even more severe.
Under federal law, possession of any amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor offense. The question of quantity only comes into play with charges of growing or selling cannabis. Penalties for possession under U.S. sentencing guidelines are:
- First offense: A first marijuana possession offense is a misdemeanor that carries penalties of up to one year in jail and fines of up to $1,000.
- Second offense. This is also charged as a misdemeanor. Penalties are up to two years jail time with a mandatory minimum of 15 days and fines of up to $2,500.
- Third or subsequent offense: This could be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Penalties include up to three years in jail with a 90-day mandatory minimum and fines of up to $5,000.
Penalties for growing or selling marijuana are more severe than penalties for possession. They range from up to five years in jail and fines of up to $250,000 for less than 50 plants (growing) or less than 50 kg (selling), to imprisonment for 10 years to life and $1,000,000 in fines for 1,000 plants or kilograms, or more.
There may be defenses available to you if you are facing federal marijuana charges. Common defenses include:
- Lack of possession
- Legal possession
- Illegal stop or search
- Invalid search warrant
- Illegal surveillance
Our Los Angeles drug crime defense attorneys at Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP will use every possible defense to fight for the best outcome in your case. Contact us at (213) 688-0460 to schedule a free initial consultation.
Recent Case Results
- Complete Dismissal of Molestation Charges
Attorney Mark Werksman’s 29 year old client was falsely accused of molesting two neighborhood children and was subsequently charged with felony child molestation, with a significant prison sentence hanging over his head should he be convicted. Instead, at the preliminary hearing Werksman was able to convince the court to grant his client a complete dismissal of any charges.
- Decision Set Aside
Client, a college student in a faulty Title IX case, was awarded $130,000 in attorney fees.
- Probation with No Jail Time for Drug Money Laundering Charge
Wilmington man accused in New York federal court of laundering drug money through the sale of laptop computers. Mark was able to get the case transferred to federal court in Los Angeles, where he convinced the United States Attorney to reduce the charges. His client was sentenced to probation with no jail time on a misdemeanor conviction.