blog home Drug Possession What Happens If You Have Cannabis in a Drug-Free Zone?

What Happens If You Have Cannabis in a Drug-Free Zone?

By San Diego Attorney on July 22, 2019

Since the passage of the Adult Use of Marijuana Act in 2016, the recreational use of marijuana has become legal in the state of California. With the new legal landscape that comes along with an overhaul of long-standing drug laws, many individuals find themselves confused as to what is actually allowed.

Just because cannabis has been decriminalized at the state level does not mean individuals can carry and consume marijuana wherever they see fit. The Adult Use of Marijuana Act has legal guidelines for appropriate places to possess and use the drug. However, laws surrounding specific drug-free zones can lead to criminal charges and fines if an individual takes cannabis to these specific locations.

What Is Considered a Drug-Free Zone?

If an individual is found to be using or in possession of marijuana in or within 1,000 feet of a drug-free zone, he or she may be subject to penalties. Locations considered drug-free zones in California include:

  • Daycare Centers
  • K-12 Schools
  • Youth Centers
  • College or University Campuses

When a person is charged with breaking drug-free zone regulations, he or she can face legal repercussions. The charges vary only by the age of the accused.

Individuals under the age of 18 who are found to be in violation of drug-free zone laws will be charged with an infraction and sent to mandatory drug counseling. If an individual is over the age of 18 and considered an adult in the eyes of the law, the punishment becomes more severe. People accused of a marijuana violation in a drug-free zone will be charged with a misdemeanor and fined up to $250 for their first offense. The punishments and fines issued by the court will increase in severity if the individual is a repeat offender.

Potential Consequences in Academic Institutions

Individuals enrolled in schools and universities who violate drug-free regulations can face repercussions that may affect their academic standing and enrollment. The specific punishments depend on the polices in place at the specific institution.

Schools and universities may place students who violate campus drug policies into drug education and rehabilitation programs, place them on academic probation, or expel them completely. Being accused of violating a drug-free zone can ruin your academic career and reputation as a student. That is why, when charges are brought up against you, it is imperative that you mount a strong defense. 

How to Fight Drug-Free Zone Charges

In order to avoid fines and protect your academic standing, it is important that you hire an experienced California marijuana crimes attorney. jD LAW, P.C., will fight to get the charges dropped using these methods, depending on your situation:

  • Mistaken Attribution- If you did not possess marijuana, you cannot be guilty of a drug-free zone violation. This might be the case if, for example, the police mistook someone else’s pot for your own. This can happen if you borrow a friend’s clothing or bag that contained cannabis that you had no knowledge of, or if another individual planted the drugs on you to avoid the consequences himself.
  • Lack of Knowledge or Awareness- In order to be found guilty of a drug-free zone violation, it must be proven that you knew of the existence of the controlled substance on your person. If your lawyer can prove that you had no knowledge that the cannabis was in your possession, or perhaps were under the impression that the cannabis was something else entirely, you cannot be found guilty under California law.
  • Illegal Search and Seizure- If cannabis is found without a valid California search warrant, by law enforcement searching a location that is beyond the scope of a valid warrant, or by officers initiating an illegal stop, then a case of illegal search and seizure can be argued. If your rights were violated in the process, the charges may be reduced or dropped altogether.

Since 1990, jD LAW, P.C., has been providing top-notch drug crime defense to the people of San Diego. Do not let a misunderstanding or illegal search cost you money, harm your reputation, or jeopardize your academic standing. If you or a loved one is facing accusations of using or possessing pot in a drug-free zone, do not delay! Contact the legal team of jD LAW, P.C,. at (760) 630-2000 and let us fight for you.

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Posted in: Drug Possession

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A note from James N. Dicks:

Although COVID-19 has caused great uncertainty, we want to assure that our firm is operating remotely to accommodate all current, past, and future clients in need of any of our services. The best way to communicate with us is by telephone (760) 630-2000 or email info@jdlaw.law.

Currently San Diego Superior Courts are closed but are set to reopen on Tuesday May 26th, 2020 barring any
future orders.

Do not hesitate to contact us with any questions. Sending our thoughts and best wishes to you and your family. Please follow us on Facebook for any future updates.


Aunque COVID-19 ha causado una gran incertidumbre, queremos asegurarles que nuestra oficina esta operando de forma remota para todos los clientes actuales, pasados y futuros que necesiten alguno de nuestros servicios. La mejor manera de comunicarse con nosotros es por teléfono (760) 630-2000 o por correo electrónico a info@jdlaw.law.

Los Tribunales Superiores de San Diego están cerrados, pero están programados para reabrir el martes 26 de mayo de 2020, salvo una nueva orden.

No dude en contactarnos si tiene alguna pregunta. Estamos enviando nuestros pensamientos y mejores deseos para usted y su familia. Síganos en Facebook para seguir siendo informado de novedades nuevas.


James N. Dicks
jD LAW, P.C.

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COVID-19 Announcement

Although COVID-19 has caused great uncertainty, we want to assure that our firm is operating remotely to accommodate all current, past, and future clients in need of any of our services. The best way to communicate with us is by telephone (760) 630-2000 or email info@jdlaw.law. Do not hesitate to contact us with any questions. Sending our thoughts and best wishes to you and your family.


Aunque COVID-19 ha causado una gran incertidumbre, queremos asegurarles que nuestra oficina esta operando de forma remota para todos los clientes actuales, pasados y futuros que necesiten alguno de nuestros servicios. La mejor manera de comunicarse con nosotros es por teléfono (760) 630-2000 o por correo electrónico a info@jdlaw.law. No dude en contactarnos si tiene alguna pregunta. Estamos enviando nuestros pensamientos y mejores deseos para usted y su familia.

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