Representing Clients in California and in Federal Courts Throughout the United States

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Cultivating, Selling And Possessing Marijuana

In 1996, California enacted Proposition 215* (the Compassionate Use Act), which legalized the possession and cultivation of marijuana for many individuals. Since then, almost all levels of authority in California ─ from the California Legislature to local city councils and boards of supervisors ─ have enacted ordinances and rules purporting to regulate cannabis clubs and dispensaries, as well as cultivation and possession by individuals. Many of these regulations are inconsistent with Prop 215, and there has been extensive litigation on behalf of individuals exercising their rights under this statute.

The protection against prosecution in California under Prop 215 can be undermined by federal prosecution. While the United States attorney general issued policy guidelines in the summer of 2013 that may reduce federal prosecutions of some activities, those guidelines make clear that federal agents and prosecutors will aggressively investigate and prosecute some marijuana-related offenses. Don’t let your rights be violated. Call a skilled lawyer regarding charges of cultivating, selling or possessing marijuana in California. You may also contact Sugarman & Cannon online.

California Prop 215 Lawyers

Among the significant marijuana decisions, California courts have held:

  • A police officer, who had little knowledge or experience with distinguishing lawful and unlawful possession of marijuana, will not qualify as an expert prosecution witness to testify that the marijuana found in the defendant’s car and home was possessed for sale (People v. Chakos);
  • An individual can be a primary caregiver for another person who can lawfully use marijuana under the Act, and thus can legally grow or hold marijuana for that person (People v. Mentch);
  • A recommendation for medical marijuana, even if obtained several years prior to arrest, may still form the basis of a defense to a charge of illegal possession (People v. Windus);
  • A primary caregiver must do more than provide marijuana to a qualified patient (People v. Mower);
  • Local limitations, and even state statutes, on the amount of marijuana that may be grown or possessed must give way to Prop 215 (People v. Wright);
  • Under Prop 215, individuals who collectively associate to cultivate marijuana but who do not actively participate in the actual cultivation, may still fall within the statute’s protection (People v. Jackson); and
  • An individual who is a qualified patient and who operates a legitimate marijuana dispensary may have a defense to a felony charge of transporting marijuana (People v. Colvin).

Is Marijuana Decriminalized In California?

Despite the common belief that marijuana has been decriminalized, many individuals continue to be arrested and prosecuted in state and federal court with crimes related to marijuana, including possession for sale, cultivation and transportation. A conviction of any of these crimes can lead to a loss of federal benefits, including student loans, housing assistance and food stamps.

Experienced criminal defense counsel is necessary to help individuals prosecuted for drug crimes, or who fear they may be prosecuted, understand the law and assert their rights under the law. For decades, the attorneys at Sugarman & Cannon have represented individuals charged with crimes involving marijuana. We are very familiar with the protections afforded our clients under Prop 215 and the Fourth Amendment and have successfully filed many motions to suppress evidence.

We have, and are now, representing clients charged with large-scale cultivation of marijuana in state and federal court, as well as with possessing marijuana for sale and selling and/or transporting marijuana. For example, we have represented:

  • Clients charged with large-scale cultivation of marijuana, where our clients were placed on probation and/or admitted only misdemeanor offenses
  • Client charged with transportation of large quantity of marijuana who had all charges dismissed when we prevailed on a motion to suppress evidence based on an illegal search of our client’s car
  • Clients charged with possession of marijuana for sale, who were convicted only of simple possession
  • Individuals and dispensaries charged with tax offenses based upon profits from marijuana sales

Contact Our Experienced Attorneys

For answers to your difficult marijuana crime questions, contact our law firm online. You can also call 510-272-0600. We help all individuals who have been charged in the San Francisco and Oakland areas.


*The test of Proposition 215 is codified in Health and Safety Code § 113652.5