January 15, 2015 • Jerod Gunsberg, Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer
Yes. It’s true. Under California law, if you have a valid medical marijuana recommendation then you may have a defense to possessing a reasonable amount of marijuana for your needs. It’s also true that under California law if you are caught possessing less than an ounce of marijuana, even if you’re not a medical marijuana patient, then the worst that will happen is that you’ll get a $100 infraction (similar to a traffic ticket). But no matter what, there’s still one place you can’t bring your weed: COURT.
I’m always surprised by how many people I’ve seen get arrested at Los Angeles County courthouses for possessing marijuana. I’ve even seen people arrive at the security checkpoint, voluntarily empty their pockets at the metal detector and then argue with a Sherriff’s deputy that because they are medical marijuana patients they are allowed to have their marijuana in court.
THIS IS SIMPLY NOT TRUE.
California Penal Code Section 4573.5 makes it very clear that any person who knowingly brings drugs into any “institution or place where prisoners or inmates are being held under the custody of the any sheriff” is guilty of a felony. Do you know who is being held at courthouses under the custody of the sheriff? INMATES AND PRISONERS. They’re in the lockup in every criminal courthouse in Los Angeles. Courts are run by the sheriff. It’s a custody facility as determined under PC 4573.5. Your medical marijuana recommendation is not a defense in these situations and you’re certainly not going to get away with a $100 ticket. At every courthouse entrance in California, there is a sign that expressly cites PC 4573.5 and makes it very clear that it is illegal to transport any controlled in substances into the courthouse. Now you’re thinking, Well, what if I didn’t bring to mean it in? What if I forgot it was on me? Unfortunately, that’s not really a defense unless you can raise reasonable doubt in front of a jury after presenting evidence that someone planted drugs on you before you went in. Aside from that, there’s not much of a defense. Sure, we can mitigate and explain and it may help your case, but it’s not a legal defense. Prosecutors and courts take this very seriously. If you are someone who carries around drugs, even weed, do yourself a favor and check your bags and pockets before going to court. Yes, even weed. Seriously.
If you or a loved one find yourself accused of a crime in Los Angeles County or anywhere in California, contact The Law Offices of Jerod Gunsberg at 310-210-0744 for a free consultation or use this contact form.