In 1996, California passed Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act, which legalized the sale and use of marijuana for medical purposes. Seventy medical marijuana dispensaries became licensed and 65 more complied with all the procedures for licensing in the Los Angeles area. However, as many as 600 storefront operations opened without complying with proper procedures.
The explosion in medical marijuana caused police to crack down not only on dispensaries, but also on customers with medical marijuana in their possession, and on doctors who provided recommendations for medical marijuana.
A moratorium on new medical marijuana dispensaries was put in place in 2007 but had little effect. Now, new regulations will force the closure of unlicensed dispensaries and could put legal dispensaries out of business. While it is still unclear the full consequences of the new regulations, many medical marijuana dispensary owners could face criminal charges.
I’m criminal defense lawyer Marc A. Legget. For more than 23 years, I’ve been defending people charged with misdemeanor or felony drug crimes ranging from possession to intent to distribute to sale of marijuana and other drugs in the Los Angeles area. I represent medical marijuana dispensary owners and employees, medical doctors who recommend medical marijuana, and people who use marijuana for medical purposes.
There IS a Case to be Made in Your Defense
Dispensaries Owners: There are conflicting rules between our State’s Attorney General and various court districts regarding what constitutes legal recoupment of costs versus sales of drugs. There are some protections available to you under the Compassionate Use Act. You may or may not fall under those protections. When we meet for your free initial consultation, we will explore the requirements of the law and whether a case can be made that you are a caregiver under the law and whether you are growing as part of a collective or for personal use.
Medical Marijuana Users and Doctors: You face several challenges. The first is the way that Los Angeles police treat people they suspect of illegal use of marijuana. The police often search vehicles without cause or consent but they always write in their report that they had consent. This is a violation of your constitutional rights and we are able to fight that in court.
If the police find marijuana you can try to show them your medical recommendation but the police will often ignore it and give you a ticket anyway — and they confiscate the marijuana you need for medical purposes. Now you must face a judge. Some L.A. judges will want to explore whether there is a valid medical reason for the marijuana recommendation. They will want the doctor in court to justify their recommendation.
Judges do not have a right to substitute judicial decision for a doctor’s recommendation. It is not, nor should it be, up to a judge to decide whether you take Vicodin or marijuana for migraines, or anti-nausea medication or marijuana to counteract the effects of chemotherapy.I have been working in Los Angeles drug courts for decades. I know the prosecutors and the local judges and how they handle these cases. I can provide knowledgeable representation in any medical marijuana case.