Currently, Los Angeles utilizes a double-edged sword to attack dispensaries. After a raid, where law enforcement will seize and destroy all plants, growing equipment and paraphernalia, the dispensary owners and workers can and will be charged with a variety of offenses.
Possession of Marijuana for Sale (Health and Safety Code Section 11359) – This offense is a felony and if convicted, you will be required to register as a narcotics offender. Prison terms range from 16 months to three years.
This code section makes it illegal to possess any amount of marijuana with the intent of selling it to another person.
Cultivation of Marijuana (Health and Safety Code Section 11358) – This offense is a felony and if convicted, you will be required to register as a narcotics offender. Prison terms range from 16 months to three years.
Under this section, it is illegal to plant, harvest, cultivate or dry any amount of any portion of a marijuana plant. A person can be charged under this section even if they do not partake in the cultivation process by have dominion and control over the property and the prosecutor can show that the property owner knew or authorized the cultivation.
Transportation/Sale of Marijuana (Health and Safety Code Section 11360) – This is a felony offense which can result in a prison term ranging from two to four years. Once convicted, offenders must also register as narcotics offenders. There is no medical marijuana defense for this charge.
It is illegal to transport, sell, furnish, give away, administer or import into California marijuana. However, transporting or giving away less than one ounce of marijuana is treated as a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $100.00.
Sale or Distribution to Minors (Health and Safety Code Section 11361) – The sale or furnishing of marijuana to a minor is a felony. If the child is under 14 years of age, prison sentences range from three to seven years. If the child is between 14 and 17, the prison range is three to five years. Either scenario will result in the requirement to register as a narcotics offender. There is no medical marijuana defense for this charge and any state prison sentence must be served in prison, not county jail.
Possession of Concentrated Cannabis (Health and Safety Code Section 11357a) – This is a misdemeanor offense with jail time ranging up to six months. In addition, a fine of up to $500.00 may be imposed.
Manufacture of Concentrated Cannabis (Health and Safety Code Section 11379.6) – The chemical extraction of hash oil is a felony with harsh penalties. State prison terms range from three to seven years. The fine can range up to $50,000.00. A person convicted of this offense must register as a narcotics offender and there is no medical marijuana defense for this charge and any state prison sentence must be served in prison, not county jail. Prosecutors may also seek to seize the property where the crime occurred.
In addition, dispensaries deemed to be out of compliance with local municipal regulations will be pursued for code violations. Both the owner and the corporation can be held liable for significant fines and fees. These easily can reach tens of thousands of dollars. The majority of these cases are handled in the East Los Angeles courthouse and the prosecution indiscriminately charges owners, landlords, employees, volunteers and corporation directors and officers. Such cases are often preceded by a single warning letter that may or may not be delivered to all persons eventually charged.