Personal possession of marijuana – insufficient quantity or use

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Personal possession of marijuana – insufficient quantity or use

Personal possession of marijuana will be prosecuted as a misdemeanor when the accused possesses less than one ounce of marijuana and may be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or as a felony when the accused possesses any amount of concentrated cannabis. When charged with this offense, it is vital that the accused hires a skilled criminal defense lawyer who regularly defends California drug crimes who knows how to prepare a defense that is specific to the facts of the defendant’s case.

Insufficient quantity or use is one of the defenses that may be applicable to this charge. Because this offense is typically charged against an individual who possesses relatively small amounts of marijuana – an individual possessing large quantities of the drug will usually be charged with possession of marijuana for sale, which is a much more severe crime – there may not even be enough of the drug to withstand a criminal prosecution. Although many believe that possession of any marijuana is a crime, the fact is that there are instances where that may not be the case, due to an insufficient quantity (for example, marijuana traces or residue) or due to an insufficient use (the marijuana has no narcotic value). An inexperienced attorney may not know about these exceptions, which is another reason why it is so important to hire an attorney who specializes in this area of the law.

Insufficient quantity, obviously, refers to the amount of the possessed marijuana. California courts have decided that the laws against marijuana possession don’t include useless traces or residue of the drug, ruling that such a minute amount is useless for either sale or personal consumption of the drug. The objective of punishing an individual for possession is to punish him or her for a potential future use or sale, so the discovery of only a trace of marijuana is without legal significance. It should be noted, however, that such evidence may be used to bolster another type of narcotics charge, but will not, in and of itself, be sufficient to sustain a conviction for a personal possession charge

Insufficient use refers to the “usability” of the marijuana and may be a defense to this charge if the discovered marijuana can’t be used for its narcotic effect. The California courts have ruled that, for example, burned, charred marijuana seeds would be useless for either a toxic effect or for cultivating marijuana plants and therefore cannot be used as the basis for a possession conviction. Similarly, the courts have held that where the marijuana has been altered to the point where it can’t be used as a narcotic nor converted to a usable form to produce a narcotic effect, a conviction would not be legal. Such was the case when police discovered marijuana soaking in alcohol in a defendant’s home and arrested the defendant for possession. The court held that because the marijuana could no longer be used as a drug, nor converted back to its original form to be used as a drug and that soaking marijuana in alcohol was a remedy typically used by persons of Mexican descent for arthritis or rheumatism, an invalid arrest had been made.

The bottom line is that an experienced criminal attorney knows that a personal possession charge cannot be based on possession of marijuana that is so limited in quantity or so altered in form that it is useless for narcotic purposes. The outstanding attorneys at The Kavinoky Law Firm understand this and, just as importantly, know how to explain this defense to a judge and jury so that they, too, understand its significance. Because they stay on top of California’s drug laws and court rulings, they always know the latest evidentiary rulings and issues that may be applicable to their clients’ cases. For more information about this or any other defenses that are applicable to a personal possession charge, contact The Kavinoky Law Firm today for a free consultation and for the best representation.