Health & Safety Code Crimes
The penal codes are not the only source of criminal laws in California. Violations of Health & Safety codes can also lead to criminal sanctions. These codes generally apply to areas of health and safety, including medical treatment, licensing, food, hazardous substances, diseases, and more. Most people never have to deal with health and safety code crimes; however, you may find that you’ve violated these laws if you’ve been arrested on drug charges.
Health and Safety Drug Charges
A number of California Health and Safety Codes apply to controlled substances, including possession, sales, transportation, and cultivation. When someone is arrested on drug charges, they may be facing Health and Safety Code violations.
Under the California Controlled Substances Act, the state classifies drugs, intoxicating substances and immediate precursors under Health & Safety Code §§ 11054-11058. These are divided up into Schedule I through Schedule V, based on their perceived danger, medical use and potential for abuse, with Schedule I drugs at the top of the list.
The medical use of marijuana was approved through Prop 215, which was written into law under the Compassionate Use Act. Under Health & Safety Code §11362.5, seriously ill patients have the right to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes.
The possession of marijuana that does not fall under the limited medical marijuana restrictions can be treated as possession of a controlled substance under Health & Safety Code 11357. Possession of a small quantity may only result in a simple fine, but larger amounts may carry greater penalties.
While the demonization of marijuana has greatly decreased over the years, it is still considered a drug for the purposes of a DUI. California was the first state to decriminalize medical marijuana by passage of Proposition 215 in 1996. Then, California went further by legalizing the recreational use of marijuana as of January 1, 2018. Under Prop 64, adults age 21 and over may possess up to one ounce of dried marijuana or eight grams of concentrated cannabis. In addition, adults may also grow up to six plants for their personal use.
Possession of a controlled substance can include not only illegal street drugs like heroin and cocaine, it also includes prescription drugs when the person in possession does not have a valid prescription. Possession of small amounts of a controlled substance is usually considered a misdemeanor under California Health & Safety Code 11350. First time offenders may be eligible for a diversion program to have criminal charges dropped.
Sales and Distribution
If the police find someone in possession of a quantity of a controlled substance that is greater than for personal use, they may be charged with possession with the intent to sell under Health & Safety Code 11351.
Selling or transporting a controlled substance is a violation under Health & Safety Code 11352. Possession with the intent to sell, drug sales or transporting a controlled substance is treated much more seriously than simple drug possession.
Manufacture and Cultivation
Anyone who manufactures, compounds, converts, produces, derives, processes, or prepares, either directly or indirectly by chemical extraction or independently by means of chemical synthesis, any controlled substance may face up to 5 years in prison, and a fine of up to $50,000 under Health & Safety Code §11379.6
Cultivation of marijuana that does not fall under the provisions allowable for medical use is a violation of Health & Safety Code §11358. This includes planting, cultivating, harvesting, drying, or processing any marijuana, and is punishable by imprisonment.
Defenses to Health & Safety Code Violations
If you have been charged with a Health & Safety Code violation in California, you should consider contacting a crime attorney with the skill and experience to handle your drug case. Drug crimes can be complicated and the law is continually evolving. The police may not have followed the rules, or may have performed an improper stop or illegal search. Your California criminal defense lawyer will make sure your rights are protected, and fight to get the charges against you reduced or dismissed. Contact an experienced California defense lawyer who will stand by your side so you don’t have to face the judge and prosecutor alone.