June 13, 2022 By Paul Wallin

Synthetic Cannabis Laws in California

What Is Synthetic Cannabis?  

Synthetic cannabinoids, or synthetic cannabis, are man-made chemical alternatives to marijuana. Although these products boast the same effects as marijuana while eluding drug test detection, they can also cause serious side effects. Because synthetic cannabis is much more powerful than marijuana, its effects can be dangerous and unpredictable. People who use these products often experience vomiting, agitation, paranoia, hallucinations, seizures, organ damage, and in extreme cases, even death. 

There are hundreds of different synthetic cannabis products being manufactured and sold, with new ones released every year. For many years, these products could be easily bought on the Internet, in drug paraphernalia shops, and even in gas stations. After they were banned, manufacturers tried to get around these bans by altering the chemical formulas in their products. Since users often mistakenly believe that these products are legal and safe, synthetic cannabis has risen in popularity over the years. 

Penalties for Synthetic Cannabis 

Despite popular belief, synthetic cannabis is actually not legal in California and several other states in the U.S. In fact, synthetic cannabis is classified as a Schedule I drug, meaning it is considered highly dangerous and the penalties are harsh. According to California Health and Safety Code Section 11357.5, every person who sells, dispenses, distributes, furnishes, administers, or gives, or possesses for sale any synthetic cannabinoid compound is guilty of a misdemeanor. The penalties for violating this section include: 

  • Up to $1,000 in fines 
  • Up to 6 months in county jail 

In addition, every person who uses or possesses any synthetic cannabinoid compound is guilty of a public offense. Depending on your criminal history, the offense can be charged as an infraction or a misdemeanor, and the penalties can vary accordingly: 

  • 1st offense: An infraction punishable by up to $250 in fines 
  • 2nd offense: An infraction punishable by up to $250 in fines or a misdemeanor punishable by up to $500 in fines and/or up to 6 months in county jail 
  • 3rd or subsequent offense: A misdemeanor punishable by up to $1,000 in fines and/or up to 6 months in county jail 

Defenses for Synthetic Cannabis 

If you have been arrested for selling or possessing synthetic cannabis, your attorney may be able to get the charges dropped if he can prove that one of the elements was not met. First of all, the synthetic cannabis product must have contained one of the chemical compounds listed in California Health and Safety Code Section 11357.5. If the product did not have one of the chemicals listed, then you cannot be charged with this offense. However, it is important to note that the legislature frequently adds new chemicals to this list, so even if a certain synthetic product is legal today, it may soon be prohibited. Furthermore, your attorney may try to gather evidence to prove that either you did not have the cannabis on your person or within your reach, so you were not in possession of the product. 

In some instances, an officer may pressure or convince a defendant to commit a crime in their presence; this is known as entrapment. Entrapment is a defense to criminal accusations but is based on specific encounters between the police officer and the defendant before the alleged conduct. Rather than just providing an opportunity to commit a crime, an officer must actually behave in an overbearing way that would cause even a law-abiding citizen to engage in the crime. For example, if an undercover police officer aggressively pressures you into selling a synthetic cannabis product, then you may be able to use entrapment as a defense. 

Contact Wallin & Klarich Today 

The sale and possession of a Schedule I drug is a serious crime and can lead to harsh consequences. If you are charged with a synthetic cannabis crime, you need an experienced defense team to represent you. With 40+ years of experience, Wallin & Klarich is your best choice amongst Southern California criminal defense firms. Our attorneys have helped thousands of clients with drug-related crimes, and we have the skills and resources to help you, too. 

With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Torrance, West Covina, Los Angeles, and San Diego, you are sure to find an available and convenient attorney near you. 

Discover how our team can assist you. Contact us today, toll-free at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free consultation with a skilled defense attorney.

AUTHOR: Paul Wallin

Paul Wallin is one of the most highly respected attorneys in Southern California. His vast experience, zealous advocacy for his clients and extensive knowledge of many areas of the law make Mr. Wallin a premiere Southern California attorney. Mr. Wallin founded Wallin & Klarich in 1981. As the senior partner of Wallin & Klarich, Mr. Wallin has been successfully representing clients for more than 30 years. Clients come to him for help in matters involving assault and battery, drug crimes, juvenile crimes, theft, manslaughter, sex offenses, murder, violent crimes, misdemeanors and felonies. Mr. Wallin also helps clients with family law matters such as divorce and child custody.

Practice area

  • Contact Us Now

    If you or a loved one have been accused of a crime, now is the time to contact us.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

SCHEDULE YOUR free consultation

If you or a loved one have been accused of a crime, this is the time to contact us.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.