Medical Marijuana Exemption

Qualified patients, persons with valid identification cards, and the designated primary caregivers of qualified patients and persons with identification cards, who associate within the State of California in order collectively or cooperatively to cultivate marijuana for medical purposes, shall not solely on the basis of that fact be subject to state criminal sanctions under Section 11357, 11358, 11359, 11360, 11366, 11366.5, or 11570. Health and Safety Code, Section 11362.775.

Lauren K Johnson was the first attorney in the State of California to successfully advocate on behalf of a parent who used medical marijuana in the Court of Appeal. In the case In re Drake M., Lauren K Johnson represented a father who lawfully used medical marijuana while providing care for his child. Despite the Department of Children and Family Service’s claim that Ms. Johnson’s client had a substance abuse problem, the Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s order that the DCFS supervise the family. For the first time in a published case, the Court of Appeal gave a definition for substance abuse versus substance use in a dependency case, providing guidance to trial courts within the state of California. This ruling means that medical marijuana use by itself does not always place a child in a substantial amount of risk. The ruling also makes an important distinction between “using” and “abusing” medical marijuana as its ability to combat pain, anxiety, and even seizures have been widely acclaimed by certain researchers. Many praised the ruling as important in making that differentiation as well as protecting the parental rights that parents who use medical marijuana rightfully deserve. The father only used medical marijuana when his child was being watched by someone else and there was no evidence of any harm.

As more people seek recommendations for medical marijuana usage in the State of California, lawful patients are finding themselves facing charges, even with proof of a recommendation from a doctor. People that suffer diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, Crohn’s disease, and epilepsy have found medical marijuana to be very effective in combatting the symptoms that come with their diseases. The active chemicals in medical marijuana, otherwise known as cannabinoids, have been found to help relieve pain and anxiety in certain cases. The father, in this case, stated to a social worker that he had a prescription and used medical marijuana to combat chronic pain.

Lauren K Johnson has experience representing many medical marijuana users under the Compassionate Use Act. The Compassionate Use Act, which is also known as the Medical Use of Marijuana Initiative, was approved in 1996, and is an important step in California in favor of medical marijuana. It relieves patients and caregivers who possess or cultivate marijuana for medical treatment from criminal laws, giving them important legal protection from criminal laws. It is because of this law that California is one of the states that allows the use of medical marijuana.

Medical marijuana possession refers to the ownership of marijuana for medical purposes. For example, people that are ill or suffer from painful symptoms associated with diseases such as epilepsy and cancer often use medical marijuana as a form of pain relief or treatment. Laws regarding medical marijuana possession vary from state to state. In California, patients with a doctor’s recommendation can possess larger quantities than recreational users. They can grow their own, or purchase from licensed dispensaries with limits on the amount. If you are under the age of 21, you need a doctor’s recommendation to purchase marijuana. An example of medical marijuana possession would be someone possessing more than 28.5 grams of cannabis, or up to 8 grams of concentrated cannabis, being caught and imprisoned in county jail and/or fined if they are 18 and over.

A common defense for medical marijuana possession is that you have a valid prescription from a certified health care professional, you are able to demonstrate the medical necessity of the substance, or that you did not intend to distribute the marijuana to someone not legally authorized to receive it. Other defenses include illegal search and seizure or lack of probable cause.

Our office is highly experienced in representing legitimated medical marijuana patients. We were handling these types of cases before marijuana was decriminalized and when ordinary Orange County residents were charged with felonies for possessing marijuana. Lauren K Johnson was the lead attorney in the landmark appellate case that created the legal definition of substance abuse and stood for the proposition that parents who are also medical marijuana users with a lawful recommendation can safely parent their children. This opinion changed the law in CPS court and reversed an order holding a father to be a substance abuser when really he was a legitimate medical marijuana user.

These days, individuals who buy marijuana that appears packaged for sale or who have scales or other “indicia” of sales activity can and are often charged with illegal possession or possession for sale. In our experience, many who possess marijuana for sale also use it or may share it with others. The difference between a possession for sale charge and simple possession may be the difference between a felony and no crime at all. Before your life is negatively impacted by a charge like this, contact our office for help.  

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