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Possession of Concentrated Cannabis: HS 11357(a)

Proposition 47 passed in November 2014, and it reduced simple possession of concentrated cannabis to a misdemeanor; however, the consequences for possessing cannabis are still very serious. If the offense results in a conviction, it can yield up to one in year in county jail, probation, and fines.

To establish that someone has unlawfully possessed concentrated cannabis (HS 111357(a)), the prosecutor must prove the following:

  1. The defendant unlawfully possessed a controlled substance;
  2. The defendant knew of its presence;
  3. The defendant knew of the substance's nature or character as a controlled substance;
  4. The controlled substance was concentrated cannabis;


  1. The controlled substance was in a usable amount.

Usable amount is often a point of contention in drug possession cases, because the arresting agency will often scrape amounts from a pipe or other instrument to establish a usable amount. A usable amount is enough that can be used as a controlled substance; however, it does not have to be enough to affect the user.

Defense: Compassionate Use Act HS 11362.5 (Prop 15)

It is not unlawful to possess concentrated cannabis if authorized by the Compassionate Use Act (Prop 15). Prop 15 allows a person to possess or cultivate concentrated cannabis for personal medical purposes when a doctor has recommended, or approved the use. Prop 15 also covers primary caregivers of those with medical needs. The issue is that the concentrated cannabis that someone possesses must be reasonably related to his or her current medical needs.

Other defenses include challenging the lawfulness of the search to obtain the cannabis. Was there reasonable suspicion to detain, or probable cause to conduct the search? If a warrant was not used, was there a warrant exception? For example, an automobile search, emergency, search incident to the arrest, or some other reason to conduct a search without a warrant? If not, a motion to challenge the admissibility of the cannabis may be applicable.

If you have been arrested, charged, or under investigation for HS 11357(a), contact my office today. I will provide a free, confidential consultation.