California Health and Safety Code 11350 HS prohibits the possession of specific “controlled substances” without a valid prescription.

Drug PossessionA “controlled substance” is a drug or chemical whose manufacture, possession and use are regulated by the government under the United States “Controlled Substances Act”.

Examples of commonly possessed controlled substances include narcotics such as cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, ketamine, GHB as well as certain prescription drugs, such as Vicodin or Codeine.

In order to prove that you “possessed” a controlled substance, the prosecutor must prove that:

  1. You exercised control over the drug (or had the right to do so)
  2. You knew of the drug’s presence
  3. You knew of its nature as a controlled substance, and
  4. There was a sufficient quantity of the drug to be used as a controlled substance

Drug Possession Defenses

There are multiple defenses available if you have been wrongfully accused of drug possession in the State of California, including but not limited to:

  • Medical necessity
  • Prescription issued by a doctor
  • Unlawful search resulting in seizure of drugs
  • Problem with lab analysis, or
  • Entrapment or improper police conduct

Penalties and Sentences for Drug Possession

The penalties for drug possession vary depending on the kind of drug, the amount in possession, and the purpose for which the defendant had possession of the drug. Possession of a controlled substance for personal use can lead to a sentence of imprisonment in county jail for up to one year, while possession for sale may result in a sentence of imprisonment for a range of two to five years. If the charge is for possession and transport across county lines, the sentencing could range from a few years up to nine years of imprisonment.

Possession of marijuana can result in different penalties depending upon the amount in possession, and other factors. Possession of less than 28.5 grams (one ounce) of marijuana which is not concentrated cannabis can result in a fine of up to $100. Possession of greater amounts, or possession in close proximity to a school, can result in more serious fines, or imprisonment in county jail.

Possession of ingredients intended for the manufacturing PCP or methamphetamine can result in a felony sentence of two, four, or six years of imprisonment.

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