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Health and Safety Code 11361. Selling.Giving Marijuana to Minors Laws in California- IE-Criminal Defense

H&S 11361: Selling/Giving Marijuana to Minors

Legal Definition:

“(a) A person 18 years of age or over who hires, employs, or uses a minor in unlawfully transporting, carrying, selling, giving away, preparing for sale, or peddling any cannabis, who unlawfully sells, or offers to sell, any cannabis to a minor, or who furnishes, administers, or gives, or offers to furnish, administer, or give any cannabis to a minor under 14 years of age, or who induces a minor to use cannabis in violation of law shall be punished by imprisonment…

(b) A person 18 years of age or over who furnishes, administers, or gives, or offers to furnish, administer, or give, any cannabis to a minor 14 years of age or older in violation of law shall be punished by imprisonment…”

To secure a conviction under HS 11361, the prosecution must establish the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. You engaged in the unlawful act of offering to sell, furnish, administer, or give away marijuana, a controlled substance, to another person.
  2. This offer was made with the specific intent to sell, furnish, administer, or give away the controlled substance.
  3. You were at least 18 years old at the time of making the offer.
  4. Additionally, the recipient of your offer was a minor under the age of 18 at that time.

It is crucial to emphasize that the understanding and application of these elements by experienced, knowledgeable authorities play a critical role in determining legal outcomes.

What does this mean?

Selling, in the context of this instruction, refers to the exchange of marijuana for payment, services, or other valuable considerations. The term “marijuana” encompasses the entire Cannabis sativa L. plant, whether in a growing state or not, including its seeds and resin extracted from any part of the plant. Administration of a substance occurs when it is directly applied to another person’s body through injection or any other means, or when the substance is inhaled, ingested, or otherwise consumed by the other person.

It is important to note that one can be convicted of offering to sell, even without evidence of delivering or possessing any controlled substance. While Proposition 64 has legalized marijuana for adults aged 21 and over, allowing them to purchase, possess, and sell marijuana, this does not extend to minors who are prescribed medical marijuana by a licensed doctor. It is also pertinent to mention that employing a minor to assist in a marijuana distribution unit falls under the purview of this charge. Even if the minor is not compensated for their work, the individual can still be found guilty of this offense.

It is crucial to understand that having a reasonable belief that the minor is of legal age and not a minor does not serve as a defense for this charge, except in cases where there is evidence of “inducing” the minor.


A charge under HS 11361 constitutes a felony offense. For individuals convicted of providing marijuana to a minor 14 years or older, they may face a substantial prison sentence of 3, 4, or 5 years. It is important to note that a minimum of 50% of the sentence must be served in custody. If convicted of this charge for any reason other than giving marijuana to a minor, the potential prison sentence increases to 3, 5, or 7 years. Similarly, a minimum of 50% of the sentence must be served in custody. These heightened penalties are intended for adult offenders involved in selling, inducing a minor to use marijuana, using a minor to sell, or distributing or transporting marijuana. Trust in our experienced expertise and authority to guide you through these legal matters.

This is not a strike offense under the California Three Strikes law, and it is not a Sex Offense under PC 290. You could also face a suspension or loss of your Professional License if convicted, and if you are not a legal resident, you would face Deportation in Immigration Court since the offense is deportable, in that it is a crime involving drugs.

Common Defenses

  1. Statute of Limitations
  2. Violation of Rights
  3. Insufficient Evidence
  4. Coerced Confessions

As stated previously, it is crucial to understand that if there is a reasonable belief that the minor was above 18 years of age, one cannot be held accountable under this particular section for inducing the minor. In such cases, minors may provide counterfeit identification or deceive individuals about their age, leading to a reasonable belief that they are of legal age. Often, individuals gather around bars or clubs to consume marijuana, and if a minor manages to gain entry with a fake ID, they can easily deceive others into believing they are adults. Upon spotting them inside the establishment, one would naturally assume they are of legal age, and thus, if one proceeds to induce them into smoking marijuana, they would perceive it as engaging with another adult. In your defense, a skilled Criminal Defense Attorney can establish and demonstrate the underlying reasons why you attempted to induce the minor to smoke marijuana, serving as a defense against the charges.

It is important to acknowledge that sometimes law enforcement officials can employ coercive tactics in their interactions with individuals, particularly when trying to extract confessions regarding knowledge of the minor’s status. Police authorities may even offer leniency in exchange for a confession, leading to a violation. In such cases, it is within the purview of your Ontario Criminal Defense Attorney to argue for the exclusion of your confession from the court proceedings, as it was obtained through coercion by the police.

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Being charged under this section carries the weight of potential criminal conviction, which can culminate in prolonged incarceration in State Prison. Specifically, a term lasting up to 7 years can strip away your firearm rights, hinder endeavors like expungement or charge reduction, and etch a perpetual felony mark on your record. The ripple effects of such a conviction can extend to your educational pursuits, career trajectory, and housing opportunities. It’s essential to underscore that drug convictions can erect barriers when seeking professional licenses, irrespective of when the offense took place. But you’re not powerless in this situation. Our seasoned HS 11361 attorney in Ontario is battle-tested, having championed the rights of countless individuals embroiled in drug-related charges, specifically under HS 11361. Lean on the expertise of the Inland Empire Defense by reaching out to our dedicated Rancho Cucamonga Criminal Defense Attorney at 909-281-0565. Our doors in Ontario are always open for those in need of robust legal counsel.

Disclaimer: The legal information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor should it be considered the formation of a lawyer or attorney-client relationship. If you would like to find out more information about your particular legal matter, contact our office for a consultation.

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