Oakland Criminal Defense Attorney
Free Consultation 510.894.6626
Dedicated. Experienced. Reliable.

Medical Marijuana Defense Attorney

Do you need a drug crimes lawyer?

Since the passage of Proposition 215 (the Compassionate Use Act) in 1996, marijuana has been legal for medical use. Despite this law, the district attorney offices of Alameda County, San Francisco County, and Contra Costa County continue to prosecute medical marijuana users with a valid prescription, often charging felonies with the risk of asset forfeiture and a prison sentence if convicted. At the Castillo Law Office, Oakland criminal defense attorney Ernesto Castillo uses his extensive experience fighting serious drug charges to aggressively defend marijuana prosecutions by demonstrating that any sale, cultivation, or possession of marijuana was for medicinal purposes and was legal under California law.

There are many laws that criminalize marijuana:

When the police seize marijuana from a person with a medical marijuana prescription, the question becomes whether the amount is reasonable for medical use, or whether the amount is unlawfully possessed or for sale. Many times the government charges sales because of the large quantity of marijuana even without evidence of a transaction, but if there is a transaction, there is the defense of providing the marijuana as a primary caregiver. Other defenses outside of medical marijuana law include a motion to suppress due to an unlawful search or seizure, motion to disclose informant, entrapment, and statute of limitations or undue delay in prosecution.

The Attorney General Guidelines on Security and Non-Diversion of Marijuana Grown for Medical Use help explain what amount of marijuana is reasonable to possess and grow under state law. The Guidelines clarify that there are two standards for reasonable possession and cultivation of medical marijuana, one found in Health and Safety Code section 11362.77 and the other in Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act.

  • Under Health and Safety Code section 11362.77, the Medical Marijuana Program Act, a person who possesses a state issued identification card may possess 8 ounces of dried marijuana, and may maintain no more than 6 mature or 12 immature plants per qualified patient.
  • Under the Compassionate Use Act, the only requirement is that the amount of marijuana possessed or cultivated is for the medical marijuana patient's "personal medical purposes." (People v. Kelly (2010) 47 Cal.4th 1008, 1013; People v. Trippet (1997) 56 Cal.App.4th 1532, 1549.) Therefore, a medical marijuana patient can legally possess a large amount of marijuana so long as it is reasonably related to the patient's medical needs.

For medical marijuana patients charged with possession, cultivation, or sale, possession of less than eight ounces or 6 mature or 12 immature plants is presumed lawful, but any other amount can still be lawful with an affirmative defense under the Compassionate Use Act. The affirmative defense of lawful medical merely requires that the defendant raise a reasonable doubt as to whether the amount possessed or cultivated is reasonably related to the patient's needs.

Oakland criminal defense attorney Ernesto Castillo uses his extensive experience defending serious drug cases to fight marijuana charges. Castillo Law Office hires respected expert witnesses in medical marijuana cultivation and medicine to prove that the amount of marijuana possessed was reasonable for medical use, even in large amounts; Castillo Law Office cross-examines the government witnesses on the maturity of the plants, the expected harvest, and the strain; and Castillo Law Office uses the evidence, like a lack of cash on the premises or a lack of individual packaging, to show that the marijuana was used for lawful personal medical purposes. The goal of these strategies is to obtain a not-guilty verdict or a negotiated plea to a minor offense like misdemeanor possession of marijuana, or possession of marijuana with deferred entry of judgment under Penal Code section 1000.

Oakland criminal defense attorney Ernesto Castillo has handled many serious drug cases. Experience defending serious drug cases can mean the difference between a not-guilty verdict or a good plea-deal, versus time in jail or prison. You need a defense attorney with particular knowledge and skill in this area to succeed.

At Castillo Law Office, we have the experience and knowledge to aggressively fight your medical marijuana case. Call us today for a free consultation.

Hear it From A Few
Of Our Clients

  • I can't thank Ernie enough for investing his time and sincere efforts to helping my family out. He truly is a master of his craft.

    “A few years back, Ernie Castillo represented a family member of mine who was charged with a vehicular offense. Although minor compared to the high profile cases Ernie is accustomed to, Ernie took the case with the utmost professionalism and was able to reduce the charge so that my family member's record was not affected. I can't thank Ernie enough for investing his time and sincere efforts to helping my family out. He truly is a master of his craft.”


  • I would recommend Mr. Castillo without any reservation.

    “Ernie Castillo was highly recommended to us. I researched and interviewed a few attorneys before making a decision of who we were going to select. It's so tough selecting when you're skeptical with the horror stories of attorney's not feeling the passion for their work but the money. After long conversations my husband and I decided to go with Ernie to represent our son in a serious case with multiple charges. We were not disappointed at all. Mr. Castillo expertise exceeded our expectations. His was thorough, he kept us up to date on the case, answered all our questions, returned our calls in a timely manner, he's truly a genuine and sincere person. Most of all his knowledge in handling the case was remarkable. I can't express thanks enough to Ernie for the spectacular job he did defending my son who was facing years in jail. He took a stressful situation and relieved it with a positive outcome. I would recommend Mr. Castillo without any reservation.”


  • I would highly recommend Mr Castillo to anyone.

    “Mr Castillo represented me on a criminal case in which I was falsely accused in 2012. He took over the case from a previous lawyer who was less aggressive and not actively pursing my defense. Mr Castillo is a confident, aggressive and very persistent lawyer. He kept my family and I up to date on the case and also returned our calls on time. Mr Castillo persuaded me not to take any deal and wanted take the case to trial because he was confident that he would win. With the Lord's guidance and Ernie's aggressiveness my case was dismissed. I would highly recommend Mr Castillo to anyone.”