California has always been at the forefront of America’s evolving attitude towards marijuana. As such, it often feels like California’s marijuana laws change all the time. It can be tough to keep up with them unless you have an interest in the subject.
For many people, marijuana is simply marijuana. But marijuana actually comes in a handful of different forms, and so California’s marijuana laws are written to reflect this. One of the forms that marijuana can take is hashish.
If you aren’t entirely sure what hashish is, that’s okay. It goes under a bunch of different names, so you may recognize one of those. To learn how California treats hashish, we will first examine what hashish actually is. With a definition at hand, we’ll be able to better explore when possession of hashish is a crime and what arguments can be used to defend against a hashish-related charge.
What Exactly is Hashish?
Hashish, like marijuana as a whole, has a ton of names. You may have heard of it called resin, hash oil, wax, rosin, honey oil, or just plain hash. However, for our purposes, we are going to refer to it as concentrated cannabis. This term is useful for two reasons. First, it is an accurate description of hashish; second, this is the term that California law uses to describe hashish.
Hashish itself is made by crushing the cannabis plant, thus concentrating the drug. Other forms of concentration also exist, but they are all wrapped up with hashish under the concentrated cannabis category.
If you are over the age of 21, then it is legal for you to use and possess up to eight grams of concentrated cannabis. Note that this is the average Californian user. People who use medical marijuana may not be strictly limited to eight grams; the eight grams limit is for those that use concentrated cannabis for recreational purposes.
While it is legal to possess eight grams of concentrated cannabis, there are still quite a few crimes associated with the substance. Simple possession, possession with an intent to sell, unlawful production, and unlawful sale or transport are all crimes that can apply to concentrated cannabis. They’re also all crimes that could see you facing a harsh penalty, as we’ll explore next.
What Are the Penalties for Concentrated Cannabis Crimes?
The penalties for concentrated cannabis cover quite a range. The lightest of the penalties is for possessing any amount of concentrated cannabis while under the age of 21. This is an infraction, which could mean a fine of up to $250. Things get much harsher from here on out.
- Simple Possession: While it is legal to possess up to eight grams of concentrated cannabis, possessing more can result in a charge of simple possession. In most cases, simple possession would be a misdemeanor. With most things, there are some exceptions to this. A conviction could result in up to six months in county jail, a fine of up to $500, or some combination of fine and imprisonment.
- Possession With Intent to Sell: It is illegal to sell concentrated cannabis without a state license. For many, possession with the intent to sell is charged as a misdemeanor, like simple possession. But suppose a defendant has a prior conviction for certain violent felonies, two or more misdemeanor marijuana convictions, or tries to sell it to somebody under the age of 18. In that case, it could be a felony, and that means potentially longer imprisonment and higher fines.
- Unlawful Production: Unlawful production is also most often a misdemeanor. It is actually legal for those with a medical marijuana license to produce concentrated cannabis, so long as they follow certain safety precautions. The biggest is to not use a toxic chemical like butane in the production process. Using a chemical like this could result in a charge of chemical extraction of a controlled substance, a conviction of which could put you in state prison for up to seven years. You could also be facing a fine of up to $50,000.
- Unlawful sale or Transport: Again, this is most often a misdemeanor charge. But it could become a felony that puts you behind bars for up to four years, depending on the circumstances of the crime and your criminal history.
How Do You Defend Against Hashish-Related Charges?
Concentrated cannabis crimes may not seem like the worst thing in the world, especially a first-time charge. But you should never just roll over and plead guilty just because you aren’t afraid of a misdemeanor charge. These crimes only get worse once you have a criminal record, so you should do everything in your power to avoid even a first-time conviction.
Thankfully, there are a number of different arguments that could be used against a charge of concentrated cannabis or hashish-related crime. It’s important to work with your drug crime lawyer to build the strongest defense possible based on the unique circumstances of your charge. With that said, some defenses that you may consider include (but are not limited to):
- The hashish was not yours.
- You were unaware that there was any concentrated present.
- The police that found the concentrated cannabis did so through an illegal search and seizure.
- It was medical marijuana that you were in legal possession of.
- You are the primary caregiver for a patient that uses medical marijuana.
- There was no intent to sell it as it was meant for personal use only.
When Should I Speak to a Drug Crime Lawyer?
If you have been charged with a drug crime, you should reach out to an experienced drug crime lawyer. It is always better to move quickly. If you put off reaching out to an attorney, all you are doing is limiting the amount of time they have to work on your case. Additionally, information that may have been available closer to the date of the incident may be impossible to get now, such as security camera footage.
It’s always best to reach out to an experienced drug crime attorney sooner rather than later.