Marijuana Possession with Intent to Sell in California: The Vagueness of HS 11359
Marijuana possession in California has become a complicated situation no thanks to the Health & Safety Code 11359 law that applies to an intent to sell marijuana. While possessing less than 28.5 grams of concentrated marijuana in California is still a misdemeanor, the criminal charges for possession of non-concentrated marijuana have been reduced considerably from the way it used to be. In fact, if convicted of such an offense today, the punishment is only a fine. What happens, though, when the police assume you're going to sell pot? Will California ever make HS 11359 more specific so there aren't quick assumptions during investigations for marijuana possession? Possession with intent to sell marijuana is still a felony that carries up to 3 years in jail.
The Potential for Misunderstandings
Without looking at the entire situation, it's easy to see why police would misunderstand when someone possessing marijuana organizes it in ways that insinuates intent to sell. Were the 3 baggies of marijuana possessed with intent to sell or were they bought on 3 separate occasions for personal use? Was the small scale found inside your home used to measure the marijuana you intended to sell or is it used to weigh the marijuana that you buy on a regular basis?
Such immediate assumptions by police may have mixed opinion from the public on whether they're rightfully cautious or misguided attempts. Here at the Law Office of Nicolai Cocis, we often see cases of these mistaken judgments and wonder how marijuana laws can be rewritten without so much ambiguity. Is there a way to make HS 11359 clearer so there isn't such a gung-ho rush for prosecutors to assume that everyone possessing marijuana intends to sell it?
The Continuing Stigma on Marijuana
Despite other states starting to decriminalize marijuana possession laws, there's still too much of a perception that marijuana is a hardcore drug. California prosecutors may be getting even with the decriminalized law by working around it and using assumptions that are sometimes hard to prove to the contrary. There isn't a doubt, though, that HS 11359 needs to be rewritten with clearer language requiring more concrete evidence before prosecuting on intent of sale.
In the meantime, those who intend to possess marijuana in California will have to be careful in avoiding the impression that a sale is imminent. This means avoiding placing marijuana in baggies or taking the marijuana to a party where other people are around and avoiding any money transactions for any reason while in possession of marijuana should always be top priority.
Regardless, if you've been falsely arrested for the intention of selling your marijuana, contact us immediately for a free initial consultation. The Law Office of Nicolai Cocis and Associates is located near the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta, and represents individuals arrested in the neighboring cities of Temecula, Wildomar, Menifee, Hemet, Lake Elsinore, Perris, Banning, Corona or Riverside, California.