What Is the Punishment for Selling Marijuana in California?

In the last couple of decades there has been a movement across the nation to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana. The State of California was one of the first states to pass a law legalizing medical marijuana. While the movement appears to be gaining momentum, with other states following suit, it is important to understand that the laws regarding the possession and sale of marijuana by anyone who does not have a medical marijuana card or permission from the state to cultivate marijuana remain much the same as they were prior to the legalization of medical marijuana. In short, this means that you still face a lengthy prison sentence if you are convicted of selling marijuana in California.

In most states, including California, laws regarding controlled substances are divided into two categories-possession and sale. The sale of a controlled substance always carries a harsher penalty than possession for personal use. If you are charged with selling marijuana the state bears the burden of proving that you did indeed sell, or that you intended to sell, the marijuana.

It is also important to understand that if you are arrested with a large quantity of marijuana you could be charged by the state of California or by the U.S. federal government-or both. Trafficking in a controlled substance can fall under federal jurisdiction because it is presumed that the drugs cross state lines at some point.

At both the state and federal level there are a number of factors that are important when determining what the possible punishment is if convicted of selling marijuana. The most important factor is usually the quantity of marijuana involved. If, however, you have previously been convicted of a similar crime or of another felony you could face a mandatory minimum sentence. In addition, where a sale took place and to whom you sold marijuana may also factor into the potential penalty. Sales near a school or park where children frequent, for example, can increase the potential penalty.

At the state level, the sale, transportation, or distribution of marijuana is a felony that is punishable by up to four years in prison. At the federal level, the sale of marijuana is also a felony; however, the penalty ranges from up to five years to a life sentence depending on the quantity involved and your criminal history or lack thereof.

As you can see determining the potential punishment for selling marijuana in California is difficult to do without knowing the specific facts and circumstances of the case. If you have been charged with trafficking in marijuana or the sale of marijuana in California consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately.

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