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.