California Health and Safety Code Section 11357.5 HSC: Selling Synthetic Cannabinoids

synthetic cannabinoids sale1. Definition and Elements of the Crime

In recent years, there has been an increased demand for synthetic marijuana products. These products claim to provide the same effects as marijuana but do not show up on drug tests. The problem with synthetic marijuana, also known as Spice and K2, is that the quality of the drug is completely unknown and these synthetics have caused serious injury and even death to users. As a result, selling synthetic cannabinoids is against the law under California Health & Safety Code Section 11357.5 HSC, and conviction can carry serious criminal penalties.

In order to prove that a defendant is guilty of selling a synthetic cannabinoid, a prosecutor must be able to prove the following elements:

  1. The defendant sold, dispensed, distributed, furnished, administered, or gave, or offered to sell dispense, distribute, furnish, administer, or give, any synthetic cannabinoid compound, or any synthetic cannabinoid derivative to any person.

  2. OR the defendant possessed for sale any synthetic cannabinoid compound, or any synthetic cannabinoid derivative.

As used in the statute, a synthetic cannabinoid compound includes the following chemical substances:

  1. 1-pentyl-3-(1-naphthoyl)indole (JWH-018).
  2. 1-butyl-3-(1-naphthoyl)indole (JWH-073).
  3. 1-A2-4(4-morpholinyl)ethyl]-3-(1-naphthoyl)indole (JWH-200).
  4. 5-(1,10dimethylheptyl)-2-A(1R,3S)-3-hydroxycyclohexyl]-phenol (CP-47,497).
  5. 5-(1,1-dimethyloctyl)-2-A(1R,3S)-3-hydroxycyclohexl]-phenol (cannabicyclohexanol; CP-47, 497 C8 homologue)
2. Related Offenses

Similar offenses include the following:

  1. Selling synthetic stimulant compounds – California Health & Safety Code Section 11375.5 HSC
  2. Possession of Marijuana – California Health & Safety Code Section 11357 HSC
  3. Possession of a Controlled Substance - California Health & Safety Code Section 11350 HSC
  4. Possession for Sale of Marijuana – California Health & Safety Code Section 11359 HSC
  5. Selling Marijuana – California Health & Safety Code Section 11360 HSC
  6. Sale of Substitute Substance – California Health & Safety Code Section 11355 HSC
3. Examples

A man runs a convenience store that sells synthetic cannabis products. The man labels the product as incense and they are very popular. This man could be charged with selling synthetic cannabinoids in violation of California Health & Safety Code Section 11357.5 HSC. Until recently, synthetic marijuana was widely available in head shops and other stores, however the California legislature has now made it illegal to sell these products.

In another example, a man who operates a head shop offers a brand new synthetic marijuana product. The substance has the same effects as marijuana if smoked, however it is not one of the chemical compounds included in the statute. The man would not be guilty of selling a synthetic cannabinoid in this example because the substance is not specifically listed in California Health & Safety Code Section 11357.5 HSC.

4. Defenses to Selling Synthetic Cannabinoids

As described above, if the synthetic marijuana did not have a chemical compound listed in the statute, the defendant would not be guilty of this offense. Because new synthetic cannabis products are constantly being created, the legislature is often playing catch up to make sure these substances are covered under the law. New items are frequently added to this statute, so just because it is legal to sell a certain synthetic product today, it may soon be outlawed.

There may be instances where law enforcement agencies use sting operations to try and catch those selling synthetic marijuana products. If the undercover operative was too aggressive in their attempts to get the defendant to sell a synthetic cannabinoid, the defendant may be able to raise a strong entrapment defense.

5. Penalties

Selling synthetic cannabinoids is a misdemeanor level offense. Those convicted can be sentenced to serve up to six months in jail in addition to a $1,000 court fine.

6. Criminal Defense for Selling Synthetic Cannabinoids

If you have been accused of selling synthetic cannabinoids, it is critical that you consult with an experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer as soon as possible. Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who knows how to effectively challenge drug crimes like this. Mr. Kraut is widely respected by prosecutors, judges and those within the law enforcement community as a tough advocate who fights diligently on behalf of his clients. Mr. Kraut works with investigators and expert witnesses to make sure his clients receive the absolute best defense possible.

For more information about selling synthetic cannabinoids, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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