Los Angeles Juvenile Defense Attorney

Archive for the ‘Juvenile Probation’ Category

California’s Ban on Synthetic Marijuana

Monday, July 30th, 2012

This is not your parents’ marijuana or the marijuana you might have encountered when you were a teenager.

In the last several years, a new designer drug has become available, much of it used by juveniles—synthetic marijuana.

Unlike old-fashioned, naturally grown marijuana, synthetic marijuana was sold over the counter by a variety of retail establishments such as gas stations and corner groceries under brand names such as “Spice,” “K2,” and “Red X Dawn.” These products were often marketed as a safer herbal alternative to marijuana.  In essence, synthetic marijuana is plant material that has been treated with a coating of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

Although synthetic marijuana looks like marijuana, scientific evidence indicates that is significantly more potent.  As a result, the symptoms are more severe, including loss of consciousness, paranoia, and psychotic episodes.  A more common and colorful way of describing the effects of synthetic marijuana is “couch lock”—as in you can’t get off the couch.

In 2011, California criminalized the sale and distribution of synthetic marijuana. Specifically, it added Health and Safety Code Section 11357.5, which makes selling, possessing, or distributing synthetic marijuana a misdemeanor:

a) Every person who sells, dispenses, distributes, furnishes, administers, or gives, or offers to sell, dispense, distribute, furnish, administer, or give, or possesses for sale any synthetic cannabinoid compound, or any synthetic cannabinoid derivative, to any person, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding six months, or by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment.

(b) As used in this section, the term “synthetic cannabinoid compound” refers to any of the following substances:

(1) 1-pentyl-3-(1-naphthoyl)indole (JWH-018).

(2) 1-butyl-3-(1-naphthoyl)indole (JWH-073).

(3) 1-U2-(4-morpholinyl)ethyl]-3-(1-naphthoyl)indole (JWH-200).

(4) 5-(1,1-dimethylheptyl)-2-U(1R,3S)-3-hydroxycyclohexyl]-phenol(CP-47,497).

(5) 5-(1,1-dimethyloctyl)-2-U(1R,3S)-3-hydroxycyclohexyl]-phenol(cannabicyclohexanol; CP-47, 497 C8 homologue).

As a misdemeanor, a juvenile with no prior record may be be eligible for a drug diversion program in which they admit the charge, and are put on probation for a period of six months.  If they then complete some drug education classes, perform community service, keep their grades up, and otherwise stay out of trouble, the charge is dismissed at the end of the six months.  If, on the other hand, their involvement with synthetic marijuana is not their first offense, the penalties will be more severe, including becoming a ward of the court with more restrictive supervision from the probation department.

Although synthetic marijuana prosecutions have been relatively rare, I expect that judges and District Attorneys in California to take synthetic marijuana cases seriously.  Ironically, the crackdown on synthetic marijuana may cause teens and other juveniles to turn to a safer alternative—old-fashioned, naturally grown marijuana.

As a juvenile criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles, I can assure you that this wouldn’t be the first time that our so-called “war on drugs” merely shifted consumption from one drug to another.

Fight Club at Los Angeles County Probation Camp

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that a teacher at a L.A. County juvenile probation camp was arrested today for allegedly running a “fight club” in his classroom.  That’s right, he is accused of allowing his students to fight one another during his class.

If this charge is true (and he is entitled to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty), this will hopefully trigger some much needed reform and monitoring at the L.A. County probation camps.  Those of us who work in the juvenile system have known for years that this sort of thing goes on (The camps are frequently referred to as “gladiator academies”).    Los Angeles County probation camps are frightening places and ironically, they are no place for children.

This is why it is so important that attorneys defending minors in the juvenile system do everything they can to keep their clients in the family home and out of camp.   Camps do not “rehabilitate” kids.  kids just come out more hardened and world weary then when they went in.  This is very disturbing news indeed.

Read about fight clubs at probation camps in the L.A. Times.

For probation violation, contact Attorney Jerod Gunserg at 310-210-0744 for a free consultation about you or your child’s juvenile case.