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Possession for Sale of Marijuana Laws in California

In California, Marijuana possession for sale is a felony. It doesn’t matter how much was sold, or whether or not the sale was witnessed. Law enforcement can base an arrest for sales on any or all of the following:

1) The amount of marijuana that was found;
2) The manner in which it is packaged;
3) Large amounts of cash;
4) The presence of a scale and or Baggies, which is typically used by drug dealers.

Any or all of the above would be enough for the district attorney to file formal charges. Law enforcement will almost always take the cell phone of someone they suspect to be selling marijuana and the district attorney can then use any information on that cell phone to further support the charges.

For prosecutors to prove their case, they must prove that:

1) The defendant possessed a controlled substance;
2) The defendant knew of its presence;
3) The defendant knew of the substance’s nature or character as a controlled substance;
4) When the defendant possessed the controlled substance, he/she intended to sell it;
5) The controlled substance was marijuana; and
6) The controlled substance was in a usable amount.

To be found guilty of transportation of marijuana, the prosecution must prove that:

1) The defendant transported a controlled substance;
2) The defendant knew of it presence;
3) The defendant knew of the substance’s nature or character as a controlled substance;
4) The controlled substance was marijuana and
5) The marijuana possessed by the defendant weighed more than 28.5 grams.

In a recent case, an investigation lead by the Newport Beach Police Department resulted in the seizure of 300 marijuana plants and about $24,000.00 in cash, after searching several homes in Orange County, California. As a criminal defense attorney my first thought is, was the search legal? Did the officers obtain search warrants before entering the homes and if so, were the search warrants obtained legally, following the criteria needed to obtain a search warrant.

According to authorities, in this particular situation, the initial investigation lead officers to indoor marijuana growing in Laguna Niguel and Huntington Beach. The information they obtained further lead them to search a home in Lake Forest. The search of the home in Lake Forest resulted in officers obtaining additional information on a commercial building in Huntington Beach where more marijuana growing plants were found.

One man was pulled over and arrested and reportedly in possession of 24 pounds of marijuana when he was stopped. He has been booked on suspicion of transportation and sale of marijuana. Another man was taken into custody at his Laguna Niguel home after detectives found marijuana grow in his home, and 300 marijuana plants. A woman was taken into custody after searching her Lake Forest home and booked on suspicion of transportation and sale of marijuana. Another man and woman were arrested on suspicion of possession of marijuana for sale after a commercial building in Huntington Beach was searched and officers found more marijuana growing as well as nine pounds of marijuana. The marijuana seized in all, reportedly has a street value of about $200,000.00.

In this situation, there were several people involved, as well as several locations. This is an example of how crucial it would be to have an attorney who is experienced in not only criminal defense, but also, someone who has an understanding of the laws as they relate to illegal search and seizure. The officers involved in this investigation were required to follow the very specific laws as they relate to the proper procedures to obtain search warrants and therefore, this must be looked at very carefully, paying close attention to each detail that lead to each home and/or individual search.
If you or a loved one has been arrested for possession for sale of marijuana, contacting an experienced criminal defense attorney in the county in which you are being charged can make the difference in felony possession and misdemeanor possession. An experienced drug defense attorney knows that police routinely use unreliable informants, defective search warrants, invasive tactics and other illegal methods to bust users, growers and dealers of marijuana. An aggressive attorney who looks closely at the arresting officers’ conduct, could make the difference in the case being dismissed.


If you would like to know more about the laws as they relate to marijuana sales, contact Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney William Weinberg at his Irvine, California office at 949-474-8008 or at www.williamweinberg.com