While most references to “controlled substances” concern illegal drugs, the term actually applies to any drug, chemical, or material that has restricted use. California law makes it is not only illegal to possess drugs like cocaine and meth, but also certain “pharmacy” medications like hydrocodone, Xanax, and oxycontin unless you have a valid prescription. An individual may even face criminal charges if the controlled substance belongs to another, with or without that individual’s knowledge of the drug’s presence.

California has a Uniform Controlled Substance Act that is a consolidation of laws, comprising thirteen chapters, that regulate the possession, manufacture and distribution of prescription drugs like narcotics, stimulants, and depressants. Hallucinogens, anabolic steroids, and chemicals used in the illicit production of controlled substances or illegal drugs are also defined and regulated. The act provides for a clandestine laboratory enforcement program.

An example of laws contained within the Uniform Controlled Substance Act is California Health and Safety Code 11350 HS. Under this code, an individual can be charged with a felony if they have unlawful possession of a controlled substance. This includes a wide variety of drugs such as marijuana, methamphetamine, crack, cocaine, cocaine base, ecstasy, GHB, heroin and prescription drugs such as codeine or vicodin.

According to Health and Safety Code 11350 HS, possession of a controlled substance is charged as a felony punishable by 16 months, or as much as 3 years, in county jail followed by a period of probation or parole. Other offenses may be classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony. In some cases, courts may show leniency to first-time offenders by offering a reduced sentence of community service and/or probation instead of jail. For a conviction, the substance does not actually have to be on you when you are arrested. Conviction can result if the substance was found in your car or house.

Daniel R. Perlman, Esq.

Law Offices of Daniel R. Perlman