Health and Safety Code 11359 makes it illegal for anyone in California to possess marijuana for the purpose of sales. The elements of this crime are laid out by the statute as:
- Defendant exercised control over marijuana.
- Defendant knew of its presence.
- Defendant knew that the substance was marijuana.
- Defendant possessed the marijuana with the intent to sell the same.
- The substance was in a usable quantity sufficient to be used for sale or consumption.
Therefore, if someone were to have possession of a usable amount of marijuana with the intent of selling that marijuana they may be guilty of Health and Safety Code 11359. However, there are several defenses that may be raised against a charge of Health and Safety Code 11359. First, a defendant may argue that he did not know that the marijuana was in his possession. This can be the case when the defendant is driving someone else's vehicle or where someone lent their vehicle to another and later took back possession of the vehicle. If that third party placed the marijuana in the vehicle without telling the defendant, then the defendant probably had no knowledge of the presence of the marijuana, and thus cannot be found guilty of a violation of Health and Safety Code 11359.
Additionally, even if a defendant had possession of marijuana and knew that it was marijuana, the defendant can argue that it was for his own personal use and that he did not intend to sell it to anyone. Depending on the facts of the case, this can be a great argument.
Also, pursuant to the compassionate use act, certain acts of possession and transfer of marijuana are legal depending on whether the individuals involved have a doctor's recommendation and/ or a medical marijuana card. Check back next week for a new blog on “Legal Marijuana.”