Orange County Drug Crime Lawyer

CA Marijuana Laws

Proposition 64, which was passed in 2016, legalized the recreational use of marijuana.  Under Healthy and Safety Code 11357, adults are able to possess up to 28.5 grams (approximately an ounce) of marijuana flower and up to 8 grams of marijuana concentrate. You may also possess up to six plants on your property in a locked space outside of public view.

You can be charged with a misdemeanor if you possess more than one ounce of marijuana for personal use.  If found guilty, you can receive up to 6 months in county jail and a fine of $500.

It is illegal to smoke marijuana in public, including sidewalks, parks, restaurants, businesses OR in any location where smoking is prohibited.  Offenders can be fined up to $250 for doing so.

If you are under 21, you cannot possess marijuana.  Otherwise, you will be charged with an infraction and sentenced to a fine or to drug counseling and community service.


It is a crime to sell marijuana in California without a local and state license.

Driving and Marijuana

You cannot consume marijuana while driving.  You can be charged with driving under the influence, if an officer observes signs of impaired driving and a blood test reveals you have cannabis in your system.  Passengers are also prohibited from smoking inside the vehicle.


It is illegal to transport an open package or container of marijuana, either as a driver or a passenger. You cannot smuggle or take marijuana across state lines.

Possession of a controlled substance

Under Health and Safety Code Section 11350, it is illegal to possess a controlled substance, such as heroin, cocaine, LSD.  One may also not possess prescription drugs without a valid prescription.

Under Health and Safety Code Section 11377, it is illegal to possess methamphetamine for personal use. 

Actual possession is not required to violate the above code sections.  You do not actually have to carry the substance.  Constructive possession is sufficient.  As long as you have the right to exercise control over the substance, you can be charged with possession of a controlled substance. 

Violations of Health and Safety Code Sections 11350 and 11377 are typically a misdemeanor and carry a punishment of up to a year in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000.  Additional penalties can include probation with random drug testing and search and seizure terms as well as registration as a narcotics offender.  

Defenses to these charges include a valid prescription, lack of knowledge, illegal search and seizure, and not having a usable amount.

Possession of a controlled substance for sale

Under Health and Safety Code Section 11351, you cannot possess a controlled substance with the purpose of selling it.  You do not need to be caught in the act of selling.  If you are in possession of a large quantity of drugs, package of baggies, scales, and a lot of cash, you may be charged with possession with intent to sell rather than simple possession.   Violation of this section carries 2, 3 or 4 years in jail and a fine of up to $20,000. 

Under Health and Safety Code Section 11378, it is illegal to possess methamphetamine for sale. A violation of this section carries 16 months, 2 years or a maximum of 3 years in county jail and a fine of up to $10,000. 

A common defense to the above charges is that the possession was for personal use and not for sale.

Sale or transportation of a controlled substance

Under Health and Safety Code Section 11352, it is a violation of the law to sell or transport a controlled substance, including drugs such as cocaine, heroin, LSD, oxycodone.  Selling heroin to a classmate would be a violation of this section and you could be charged with a felony facing three to five years in jail and up to $20,000 in fines.

Under Health and Safety Code Section 11379, it is illegal to sell or transport methamphetamine.  If you violate this section you can face 2, 3, or 4 years in jail and up to $10,000 in fines.  Penalties may increase if there is a large quantity of methamphetamine or if you use a minor to help you with the sale or transportation of the methamphetamine or if you transport across two counties.


Under Health and Safety Code Section 11364, it is illegal to possess drug paraphernalia.  Paraphernalia includes any object that can be used to inject or smoke a controlled substance. Examples of paraphernalia include: methamphetamine pipes, cocaine spoons, needles, or syringes.

Under Section 11364, you cannot be convicted for possession of drug paraphernalia if it was a medical necessity.  If you possessed the items for personal use, obtained it from an authorized source and possessed no more than 10 needles or syringes, you will not be found guilty for this charge.

Lack of control or possession at the time and lack of knowledge are other possible defenses. 

Possession of drug paraphernalia is a misdemeanor offense, with a maximum penalty of one year county jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Diversion Programs for Drug Crimes

Certain eligible defendants may complete a diversion program in lieu of jail time.

PC 1000

A first-time nonviolent offender may do PC 1000. To be eligible, a defendant cannot have a prior drug or felony conviction within the last five years.  The drug offense also cannot involve violence or threat of violence.

Examples of qualifying drug offenses that come under PC 1000 include:  possession of a controlled substance, possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana, cultivating marijuana for personal use, possession of drug paraphernalia, under the influence of drugs, or driving while in possession of marijuana. 

To enter the PC 1000 program, you must plead to the charge.  However, sentencing is delayed 12-18 months to give you time to complete the program.

The drug treatment program typically consists of five to six months of classes and drug testing followed by twelve months of informal probation. 

Once you have successfully completed the program and met the other requirements, the case is dismissed.  If you do not complete the program, the judge can then impose a jail sentence in court.

Prop 36

The Proposition 36 program applies to persons who are charged with simple drug possession or use.  A person charged with drug possession for sale is not eligible for this program.

To enter the Prop 36 program, a defendant must plead to the charge and is then placed on formal probation with the requirement to complete the treatment program.  The judge can also set additional requirements of probation including: drug tests, check-ins with a probation officer, counseling, and/or community service.

The program can last anywhere from one to two years and entails a much more rigorous treatment, testing and counseling regiment than the PC 1000 program.

After successfully completing the Prop 36 program, all charges of the defendant may be dismissed. Failure to meet the court’s requirements may cause a revocation of probation.  The Proposition 36 program allows for only two probation violations to remain in the program.  Once you successfully complete the program, your case may be dismissed.  And if you fail to complete the program, the judge can then impose a jail sentence.

Find a Orange County Criminal Attorney Near Me

If you have been charged with a drug crime described above or have any criminal matter in which you need an expert criminal attorney, do not hesitate to call.  Call us at 714-887-4810 to speak to an orange county criminal defense attorney who is familiar with the local courts and drug crime cases.  We can provide you with information on what to expect, possible outcomes, and strategies for your specific case.  We look forward to helping you through this difficult matter.