It is a common misconception that medical marijuana is legal in California. Marijuana, in every form, is illegal in California. The Compassionate Use Act and accompanying case law and regulations provide a defense from prosecution for certain marijuana offenses. But you can still be arrested, jailed, have your property seized and forfeited and forced to post bail and defend yourself.
To complicate matters, Governor Jerry Brown recently signed Proposition 266 into law. This bill abolishes the safe haven enjoyed by many collectives, cooperatives and dispensaries across the State of California. Instead, people seeking the protection of the Compassionate Use Act must now conform to a strict licensing procedure. Anyone that fails to comply will be subject to arrest, imprisonment and fines for marijuana violations. Things just got tougher for medical marijuana patients, caregivers and growers.
We have handled hundreds of marijuana cases in every courthouse in southern California and most of them throughout the state. We also have extensive experience in federal court defending marijuana charges in and out of the State of California. In the process, we have had countless charges reduced or dismissed and had our clients life and property restored.
Our firm has been representing the medical marijuana industry for close to 20 years. For several years, Bill Kroger taught the “Marijuana and the Law” class at Oaksterdam University, the first cannabis college in the United States. He was the only attorney in Los Angeles invited to speak at Loyola University to the Los Angeles Superior Court Judges and District Attorneys to educate them on the recent state of “Marijuana and Pot Shops”.
Mr. Kroger established relations with the directors and many members of California Narcotics Officers Association “CNOA”. He has worked on several marijuana investigations with DEA Group 2 in Los Angeles resulting in no arrests or charges for his clients. Additionally, he has represented many clients arrested by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, LAPD and CHP and successfully ended the cases with no charges being filed.
Bill Kroger was the only lawyer involved with the City of Los Angeles working group responsible for the Pre-ICO regulating collectives. He is actively involved with litigation for collectives in the City of Los Angeles and represents collectives facing felony charges in several different courts in Los Angeles. Our firm has successfully represented some of the largest cultivators, largest collectives, and largest edible manufacturer in Los Angeles
Marijuana Law Enforcement/ Prosecution
There are specific law enforcement divisions dedicated exclusively to eradicating marijuana sales, transportation, cultivation and use from the streets of California. At the local, state and federal level, law enforcement is present on the streets, phones and internet. There are serious sentencing enhancements for repeat offenders, offenses involving large marijuana amounts and offenses involving marijuana and firearms together. Because of the relation of violent crime, gang activity and drug wars to cocaine specifically, law enforcement and prosecution teams dedicate an exceptional amount of time, money and resources to stopping these crimes. Additionally, the split in California state law and federal law has caused the federal government to divert resources, time and money to investigation and prosecution of marijuana cases. Federal cases are much more severe in terms of prison exposure and there is no partial or complete defense for medical marijuana in the federal court system. Additionally, there is an emphasis by law enforcement to seize money, property and vehicles thought to be obtained through the proceeds from marijuana sales. This process is separate from the criminal prosecution and often disregards the due process rights found in criminal court. These seized items are divvied up among law enforcement for department funding and seized contraband is often used in future sting operations against other suspected marijuana dealers.
In 2011, Mr. Kroger represented a defendant charged with attempting to hire a private plane to transport over 200 pounds of marijuana from Los Angeles to Hawaii. The client pled to a misdemeanor, performed community service and had his record expunged. He did not serve any jail time.
Medical marijuana and legalized pot laws are the great uncharted legal territories of the 21st century, where federal laws are conflicting with state laws. Clearly when it comes to marijuana, the Kroger Law Group and William S. Kroger don’t just know the law — they helped to write it.
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.
Aside from the above offenses, there are other marijuana charges at a prosecutor’s disposal in non-dispensary cases. The charges and sentencing ranges are listed and explained below:
Simple Possession of Marijuana Under 28.5 Grams (Health and Safety Code Section 11357c) – This is a non-criminal infraction. A maximum fine of $100.00 can be assessed with no jail time. Often, prosecutors may allow a defendant to complete AA or NA (Narcotics Anonymous) meetings in exchange for a dismissal of the charge. This section does not apply to concentrated cannabis.
Simple Possession of Marijuana Over 28.5 Grams (Health and Safety Code Section 11357c) – 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. Occasionally, prosecutors may allow a defendant to complete AA or NA (Narcotics Anonymous) meetings in exchange for a dismissal of the charge. This section does not apply to concentrated cannabis.
Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana (Vehicle Code Section 23152a) – This is a misdemeanor offense that can result in a jail term of up to one year and a fine of up to $1,000.00. Additionally, offenders will face stiff fines, suspension of driving privileges and other probationary terms. Minors can suffer even longer driving suspensions, with a mandatory one-year ban for any marijuana offense whether it was related to driving or not.
Possession of Marijuana in a Motor Vehicle (Vehicle Code Section 23222) – This is a misdemeanor offense with a fine of up to $500.00 for offenses involving less than one ounce of marijuana. Larger amounts are punishable under Health and Safety Code Sections 11357(c) and 11359.
Public Intoxication (Penal Code Section 649) – If a person appears to be under the influence of marijuana in a public place, a charge of public intoxication can result. This is a misdemeanor and carries with it a jail term of up to six months and a fine up to $1,000.00.
The state charges brought against dispensary owners and employees may also be brought against marijuana offenders who are engaged in the sale, purchase, cultivation, transportation and/or manufacture of marijuana outside of the medical marijuana industry.
However, any large-scale marijuana offense (whether related to medical marijuana or not) could result in federal charges. Under federal law, the sale or cultivation of any amount of marijuana up to 50 kilograms can result in a prison term of up to five years. (One plant is generally treated as one kilogram). Weights ranging from 50 kilograms to 99 kilograms can result in a sentence of up to twenty years and significant financial penalties. Prison terms and fines increase at a draconian rate as the weight of the marijuana goes up. And there is no medical marijuana protection in the federal system even if the offense occurred in the State of California. Finally, unlike California state law, federal authorities do not require a conviction before seizing assets or property.
Possession/Possession for Sale of Synthetic Marijuana, Spice, Bath Salts
Felony or misdemeanor
These cases normally are charged in the federal system with sentences ranging from probation for small cases to years for larger ones.
Synthetic Drug Enforcement/Prosecution
This is an emerging body of crimes that have caught the attention of law enforcement due to the health dangers posed to the general public. The items are created from otherwise legal component parts but can be extremely toxic when ingested. Lawmakers have had a difficult time keeping pace with the evolving chemical formulas for the various types of synthetics.
Nevertheless, law enforcement is aggressively investigation, raiding and charging people who manufacture, distribute, sell or use synthetics.
The Kroger Law Group was in at the ground floor when law enforcement started raiding businesses for synthetics. We have dozens of clients ranging from manufacturers, distributers, sellers, chemists and store managers. The Kroger Law Group has worked with federal investigators to clear the names of people investigated and have their property returned.
In 2013, Mr. Kroger represented a businessman who had hundreds of pounds of chemicals seized by federal law enforcement. He was able to have the product returned and prevent the client for being charged with any crime.
The Kroger Law Group is on the cutting edge of synthetics law. This is such a new and intricate area of law, you need someone who has experience in these types of cases on your side. A general criminal defense lawyer will know nothing about how to defend you in a Spice of synthetic marijuana case. Call us today!
Are you a Medical Marijuana Patient, Grower or Dispensary with Legal Troubles? Or Do You Have Other Problems Connected to Pot? Contact an Experienced Marijuana Lawyer!
A majority of Americans support marijuana legalization. Even more support the medical use of pot as a medicine for those afflicted with terminal and chronic diseases, such as cancer, HIV/AIDS and Parkinson’s Disease. States across the nation are allowing its medical use and some are considering outright legalization.
The laws are changing quickly, not only in every state but within cities as well. While some cities are friendly to storefronts, dispensaries and collectives, others actively try to shut them down, despite the prevailing opinions of the usefulness of marijuana.
Not all self-proclaimed medical marijuana lawyers have the background or keep up with the changing legal landscape surrounding it.
If you’re in the medical marijuana business, you need a seasoned and experienced medical marijuana lawyer. I’ve been practicing for more than 14 years as a marijuana attorney, and I’ve seen first hand the changes surrounding the public perception, law enforcement attitude the laws surrounding cannabis.
Things are changing fast, with new laws, regulations and court decisions that affect patients, growers and dispensaries alike. My staff and I keep up with every new development and how it affects our clients.
What hasn’t changed is the federal government’s stance that marijuana is an illegal drug, no different than heroin or methamphetamine. Despite the growing number of states that approve of medical marijuana, federal law enforcement agencies are continuing their war on pot.
This makes retaining and consulting an experienced marijuana lawyer even more important!
But if you’re someone operating in a situation where pot is still illegal, I can still help you. If you’re facing possession, possession with intent to distribute or if you’ve been arrested or charged with growing pot, my expertise as a marijuana lawyer will ensure you’re treated fairly and your rights are observed.
I will ensure you are given the best legal defense.
Contact me about your situation. Our conversation will be confidential, and I’ll be able to tell you what your options are.
William S. Kroger is the foremost legal expert on marijuana law in California. While he practices all types of criminal law, marijuana crimes are what have set him apart from all other attorneys over the last decade. He has represented clients accused of use, cultivation, transportation and sales in the state and federal level on hundreds of occasions. Mr. Kroger was the only marijuana lawyer involved with the City of Los Angeles when implementing the initial interim control ordinance to regulate medical marijuana shops in 2007. Mr. Kroger also taught “Marijuana and the Law” at Oaksterdam University, an institution established in the San Francisco Bay area to educate medical marijuana growers and dispensary owners. He was also handpicked to teach a class about medical pot to judges and other attorneys. The Kroger Law Group and Mr. Kroger are trusted by some of the largest dispensaries in Los Angeles for legal defense. He and his law firm have also represented medical marijuana collectives that were charged in federal court. In addition, he has defended clients, including some of the largest marijuana growers, doctors and edible manufacturers, in countless criminal court cases. He’s been able to have property that was seized by the police returned and ensure his clients did not have to serve a prison sentence, on some occasions. The defendants who retain Mr. Kroger benefit from his years of experience as a marijuana charges attorney in Los Angeles and his rapport with judges, clerks and opposing attorneys.
Contact Mr. Kroger Today
If you are in need of an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles, CA who is proficient in marijuana, drug & criminal law, there’s simply no better attorney than William S. Kroger.