A judge gavel and law book detailing drug possession laws in California.

What You Should Know about Drug Possession Laws in California

No one wants to end up in the legal system. It’s not a goal someone wakes up with and no one decides they want to live their life intertwined with the criminal courts. Nevertheless, for an individual living with a substance use disorder, coming in contact with the police and criminal courts is sometimes an inevitability. This is a result of the wide variety of misdemeanor and felony charges associated with both possessing illegal substances and using while in a public setting.

Understanding which laws exist and how they can impact your loved one who is struggling with addiction is essential to helping them avoid criminal charges and even jail time. Being an advocate for a person in your life who may be too overwhelmed or distracted with their addictive impulses can provide them a lifeline when they need it most.

What Are the California Drug Possession Laws?

Like most drug possession laws around the country, California’s drug possession laws can be a bit confusing. If you can, we encourage you to take some time to research the states laws, in the case that you need to navigate the system and make legal decisions with your loved one.

Of course, we understand it can take a lot of time and energy to understand the state’s legal system. Some of the more important points you should be aware of include the following:

  • In November 2014, California voters passed Proposition 47, which reduced most simple drug possession arrests from possible felony charges with state prison time to misdemeanor offenses.
  • The passage of Proposition 64 resulted in the legalization of marijuana for recreational use in California, making it legal to possess up to one ounce of marijuana for personal use.
  • The sentence for felony drug possession increases dramatically from the misdemeanor sentence depending on a person’s criminal record and other factors, including prior criminal history, past violent incidents that resulted in arrest, and other extenuating circumstances.
  • It is important to know that possession of controlled substances with intent to sell – a separate felony drug offense charged under Cal. Health and Safety Code § 11351 – is more serious and can therefore lead to tougher sentencing.

How Drug Possession Laws in California Impact Your Addicted Loved One

The way in which the existing laws and statutes involving drug possession in the state of California impact an individual can vary. For some who have avoided the criminal courts for a majority of their adult life, receiving a possession charge can have little to no effect.

For others – who have struggled with addiction and subsequent arrests associated with their impulsive and erratic behaviors while under the influence – receiving a drug possession charge can result in both significant fines and potential jail time.

Fortunately, legislation and amendments to the law have been passed that don’t simply incarcerate a person struggling with a drug addiction. Instead, these amendments actively work to provide people with clinical help and assistance.

These include:

  • The Passing of Proposition 36
    This was developed to save the state money by actively keeping people out of prison for the most minor drug offenses. If your loved one qualifies for “Prop 36,” they will be required to participate in drug treatment rather than jail time.

This program is specifically set aside for nonviolent drug possession offenses, meaning those with past violent charges may not qualify if they have any prior violent convictions on their record.

  • The Development of Drug Courts
    These are a collaborative effort to provide clinical interventions for people charged with drug offenses in order to return them to the community as law-abiding citizens. For a possession charge in drug court, individuals are usually put under supervision for 12 months.

During this time, people are subject to rules and random drug testing while they undergo clinical treatment and counseling to address the diagnosed substance use disorder.

While these are not the only benefits to the current California drug possession laws, they do highlight the fact that the state is working to not simply incarcerate a person dealing with addiction. Instead, the state is making efforts to provide people like your loved one with clinical options to address their substance use disorder and emerge from their legal issues with improved perspective and genuine personal growth.

The Financial Consequences of Addiction

While the state has worked to move from a strictly punitive response to drug possession charges to a more clinically-driven approach, the fines associated with these charges are still very real. In most situations, simple possession is charged as a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of $1,000, community service and/or up to one year in jail.

These penalties can increase for second or subsequent offenses. For example, the $1,000 fine can double to $2,000 under Cal. Health and Safety Code § 11350, creating a situation in which a person receiving multiple drug possession charges is allowed to stay in the community, but is required to pay thousands of dollars in fines or risk going to jail.

In these situations, it is not uncommon for family members to be pulled into the situation – being asked to cover the fines in order to save their loved one from incarceration. If you find yourself in a scenario like this, it is not only important to consult with a legal professional, but to also contact a clinical treatment facility to help your loved one address their addiction.

Working with your loved one to avoid the hassles associated with the court system can help them avoid exorbitant costs and, above all, help save their life.

Ranch Creek Recovery Offers Life-Changing, Holistic Addiction Treatment

At Ranch Creek Recovery, your loved one will never be alone. We will fight right alongside them and help them reclaim control over their health and happiness. We take a holistic, non-12-step approach to drug and alcohol rehab and mental health disorders. We have raised the bar on rehabilitative services, focusing on a holistic approach within a uniquely luxurious setting in California.

Get to know us better and let us help your loved one get clean and thrive in sobriety. Contact us today to get your questions answered.

CALL NOW: (877) 293-8607

A drug addict closing a bag of meth.

How Meth Affects the Immune System

It is no great surprise that methamphetamine is bad for your health. Multiple studies have shown that the drug attacks the body in a number of ways: from destroying organ performance to eroding dental hygiene to deteriorating neurological functioning, meth assaults the human body in a variety of extremely effective manners.

But even with all of this existing knowledge, it appears that recent studies have indicated yet another way in which meth is detrimental to those abusing the substance. There is mounting evidence that methamphetamine increases a person’s susceptibility to infection by crippling immune system functioning and facilitating disease transmission.

While the physical dangers of meth have been shown for decades, understanding how the drug negatively impacts the immune system is newer to researchers, but quickly proving to be just as detrimental as all previous knowledge concerning the illicit substance.1

The Negative Effects of Meth

Habitual meth use has a wide variety of negative effects on the human body. This is due to the drug’s ability to destroy human tissue and blood vessels, completely inhibiting the body’s ability to naturally repair itself. In the short-term, this results in:

  • Erratic sleep patterns and extreme bouts of insomnia
  • Complete loss of appetite resulting in severe nutrition deficiencies
  • Bizarre and sometimes violent behaviors
  • Hallucinations, excessive amounts of panic, and potential psychosis
  • Seizures and even death from overdose

While these typical symptoms associated with the use of meth can seem terrifying to most, to a meth addict, they quickly become a normal part of their daily lives. And although the short-term effects are so obviously destructive, the long-term effects carry even more impactful and alarming consequences.

They include:

  • Liver, kidney and lung damage
  • Permanent damage to blood vessels within the heart and brain
  • High blood pressure leading to heart attacks, stroke and death
  • Severe tooth decay
  • Psychological dependence on the substance
  • Damage to the brain, similar to Alzheimer’s disease 2

Meth and the Immune System

With the recent resurgence of meth use around the country, researchers have begun to focus on the effects methamphetamine has on the immune system and how habitual use dramatically effects the body’s ability to fend off disease causing bacteria and viruses.

In particular, recent studies have shown methamphetamine to suppress killer T-cells, a type of white blood cell that fights off pathogens. This negative impact on T-cell memory population and T-cell activation has the ability to leave a meth addict unable to initiate a sufficient immune response to a number of infectious diseases.

Additionally, meth’s ability to dry out mucosal membranes and cause abrasions in the mouth and rectum might increase an addict’s vulnerability to debilitating infections without the ability to naturally fend off the experienced illness.

This is directly related to a meth addict’s increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases and blood borne pathogens due to their addictive behaviors and drug administration routes.3

Skin Infections from Meth Use

In addition to the identified physical toll that meth use can have on various organs, teeth and immune system, habitual meth use can also deteriorate an addict’s skin and overall complexion. This is due in part to the toxic chemical compounds found in the substance as well as the compulsive behaviors habitual use induces in an addict.

Both short-term and long-term meth use can lead an individual to pick at their skin due to experienced compulsions often associated with delusions, psychosis, and even the feeling that bugs are crawling under the skin.

This picking and scratching can lead to infected wounds and sores, exacerbated by both the addiction and physical deterioration caused by the substance. Factor in decreased skin elasticity and excessive acne associated with meth addiction and an addict can fully expect to experience unhealthy skin texture and a deteriorating overall complexion.

The fact of the matter is that meth use has an extensive history of negative effects on the human body and an even longer saga of destroying the lives of those habitually using the toxic substance. Whether a person is casually abusing the drug or experiencing a full-blown addiction, the consequences associated with meth use can destroy them both mentally and physically.

Life-Changing, Holistic Meth Addiction Treatment at Ranch Creek Recovery

Undoing the damage of meth addiction can be messy, extremely uncomfortable and some of the hardest work you do in your life. But, in order to have a life worth living, your addiction must end.

Your mind and body need significant attention and care during meth addiction treatment.

At Ranch Creek Recovery, your successful recovery and sober re-entry into society is our utmost mission.

At our holistic recovery center, our meth treatment program delivers all-encompassing methodologies of medical and physical treatment, psychology, holistic and experiential therapies, and preparation to forge the drug free future you desire.

Learn more about our meth addiction treatment program to start your journey toward detox and recovery.

Have questions? We’re here to help in any way we can. Contact us today.


1 The National Center for Biotechnology Information. Impact of methamphetamine on infection and immunity. Accessed December 3, 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4290678/.

2 PBS Frontline. How Meth Destroys the Body. Accessed December 3, 2018. https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/meth/body/.

3 PLOS ONE. Methamphetamine Administration Targets Multiple Immune Subsets and Induces Phenotypic Alterations Suggestive of Immunosuppression. Accessed December 3, 2018. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0049897.

Addiction treatment

Learn More About Relapse Prevention And Dual Diagnoses

Ranch Creek Recovery offers more than specialized addiction treatment; we offer a second chance at a normal life. Contact us at (951) 795-4326 to learn how we’ve changed the lives of others. You can also learn more about the importance of effective addiction treatment by browsing these addiction-related resources:

  • This article from The Huffington Post describes how self-medication can lead to substance abuse.
  • Explore the truth behind dual diagnosis by visiting this page from Mental Health America.
  • Visit PsychologyToday.com if you’d like to learn more about addiction triggers.
  • How can you avoid relapse during your addiction recovery? This page from Livestrong.com has the answer.
  • This page from MedlinePlus has reliable information about dual diagnosis disorders.

Understanding Dual Diagnosis and the Self-Medication Theory

Complex mental health problems are difficult to detect and impossible to treat without professional help. That’s why it’s important to become more familiar with common mental health problems. Learning the basics of mental illness and drug abuse will help you guide your loved ones to treatment. This overview of dual diagnosis and the self-medication theory is a great place to start.

Dual Diagnosis
A patient suffering from dual diagnosis displays both the symptoms of a drug problem and a mental health issue. Medline Plus reports that the most common examples of dual diagnosis involve substance abuse combined with depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia. Unfortunately, each of these two problems can make the other worse. According to National Mental Health Association, mental health issues can increase a patient’s risk of substance abuse by up to 15%. Dual diagnosis cases are a challenge for medical professionals because one problem is likely to cover up the other. However, a holistic approach to addiction treatment can help identify and treat both problems simultaneously.

Self-Medication Theory
The self-medication theory is one of the most prevalent hypotheses about addiction. It states that those who abuse substances or participate in addictive behaviors often have an underlying medical or psychological problem. Patients and professionals alike use the self-medication theory as a tool for better communication and understanding during the treatment process. The theory encourages patients to be honest with medical professionals and themselves about their addictions and triggers. This self-examination can be an important motivator for patients to overcome their addictions. The self-medication theory has some overlap with dual diagnosis—especially when a patient’s substance abuse begins as self-treatment for his mental health issue.

Contact Ranch Creek Recovery if you suspect that your loved one is using drugs to cope with his or her mental health issue. Our holistic approach to addiction treatment can get to the heart of the problem and help your loved one live a better life. We can be reached by phone at (951) 795-4326.