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Controlled Substances in California

While California has been a state that has loosened restrictions on particular drugs, such as marijuana, it still prohibits controlled substances for recreational or medical use in the state. In today’s blog, we will discuss the five drug schedules in California and the exceptions to legal possession of marijuana.

Drug Schedules in California

California law divides controlled substances into five schedules, as follows:

  • Schedule I drugs (such as opiates, heroin, hallucinogens)
  • Schedule II drugs (such as raw opium, morphine, oxycodone)
  • Schedule III drugs (such as pentobarbital and anabolic steroids)
  • Schedule IV drugs (such as diazepam and zolpidem)
  • Schedule V drugs (such as low doses of codeine combined with nonnarcotic active medicinal ingredients)

For a comprehensive list of all the prohibited drugs and what amounts are illegal, consult the California Code that lists this specific information in each schedule of drugs.

Penalties for Possession

After the passing of Proposition 47, the possession of the following drugs is punished only as a misdemeanor, penalized by up to 1 year in county jail, not state prison:

  • Schedule I opiates, opium derivatives, depressants, cocaine base, mescaline, peyote, or synthetic cannabis (including their isomers, esters, ethers, salts, and salts of isomers, esters, and ethers)
  • Schedule II narcotics or opiates
  • Schedule III hallucinogens
  • Schedule III, IV or V narcotics without a valid prescription

Note that under Proposition 47, these reduced penalties are available only to those who are not registered sex offenders or who do not have convictions for specified serious or violent crimes like murder or sex and gun crimes. Defendants who do not explicitly qualify for misdemeanor treatment may be charged with wobblers or felonies, depending on the drug and the amount at issue.

Exceptions to Legal Marijuana

While Proposition 64 permits adults age 21 and older to legally possess specified amounts of marijuana and concentrated cannabis, possession by those underage is an infraction carrying a mandatory drug education course and community service. Also note that smoking marijuana is not permitted in certain areas, including public places and locations where smoking tobacco is prohibited, and you could be penalized for doing so despite legally possessing recreational marijuana.

California law prohibits the following recreational uses of marijuana, however, with penalties based on the age of the offender, the amount of the drug involved, and where possession occurs:

  • If possession occurs at or near a school, the penalty for anyone age 18 and older is increased to a misdemeanor.
  • Possession of more than 28.5 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail and/or a fine of not more than $500.
  • Possession of any amount in an open container or package in a vehicle is an infraction.

Defend Against Drug-Related Charges

If you have been charged with possession of controlled drugs in California, you should contact an experienced lawyer immediately to represent your case. Common defenses your attorney can argue could be:

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

Proposition 47 and Proposition 64 have made drug possession charges less severe for many accused of possession, and you do not deserve to face harsh sentencing for a misdemeanor crime or infraction. Let our experienced team of attorneys at Corrigan Welbourn Stokke, APLC examine your case based on California’s drug schedule and craft a compelling defense to protect your rights.

Contact us at Corrigan Welbourn Stokke, APLC today to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.