Can I get my marijuana offense reduced with a medical marijuana card?

Question: Can I get my marijuana offense reduced with a medical marijuana card?  I have a valid MMC card so I am thinking that it should help fight against the charges in my case.  I have no prior history of arrests or anything like that.  Good person.  I am hoping that having my MMC will allow me to fight the case.  Any thoughts on that?

Answer: In certain situations in can help. What are you charged with?  Many people ask me if being a medical marijuana card holder will help in their defense against a marijuana DUI.  The answer to that question, generally speaking, is no.  Even if the state of California approves you possessing marijuana, it does not approve of you driving if your driving is impaired by the marijuana to the extent that your driving ability is suspect.  Similarly, if you are over 21 years old, it is legal in California to consume alcohol, but it is not legal to drive under the influence of alcohol.

That being said, marijuana DUI charges are often very good cases to defend as (at the time of answering this question) there is no “per se” law like there is with alcohol.  What that means is, unlike alcohol, there is no set limit where that states if your THC level is “x”, you are guilty of driving under the influence.  With alcohol, there is a .08 Blood alcohol limit under VC 23152.  So if the prosecutor can prove (beyond a reasonable doubt), that your blood alcohol content At the time of driving  was .08 or higher, you could be convicted of VC 23152(b) even if your driving was okay, and you did well on field sobriety tests.

If you are being charged with trafficking….the Medical Marijuana card may not help as much as you would hope (although it doesn’t hurt, and there are other potential defenses to the charges). If it is a lesser possession of marijuana charge (ie. 11357), then it can help a lot.


Phil Hache
Criminal Defense and DUI Lawyer

UPDATE:  Note that since this question was posted a few years back, the law has changed as it pertains to Marijuana possession.  Call me to discuss further to see if that affects your case status