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Are Dabs, or hash oil, or wax illegal?

Dabs, BHO and wax, hashish and shatter are just some names for concentrated cannabis. These are the extracted resin from the cannabis plant and can be inhaled many ways including vaping.  

This concentrate is much stronger than the leaves of the cannabis plant and thus subject to different laws. The 2018 law states that adults 21 and older can use and possess up to 8 grams of hashish. However, possessing more than 8 grams is a misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 6 months in jail if you do not happen to have an entitlement to medical marijuana.

A doctor’s recommendation

Because medical marijuana is legal in California, if you have a doctor’s official recommendation or approval for use of medical marijuana your defense is usually much easier and often a non-issue. These types of cases are typically covered under the Compassionate Use Act. This act explicitly states that, “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no physician in this state shall be punished, or denied any right or privilege, for having recommended marijuana to a patient for medical purposes.” If you have a doctor’s approval for use you are not subject to the 8-gram limit. 

What the prosecution must prove with Dabs

In order to be arrested for, charged with, or convicted for Dabs (AKA concentrated cannabis), law enforcement must prove that you had over 8 grams of the drug in your possession and that you:

  1. Had control over it.
  2. Knew it was there.
  3. Knew it was in a concentrated form.

If you use butane to extract the cannabis resin you may also be charged with chemical extraction of a controlled substance.

The limits of law enforcement and medical use

Law enforcement cannot use any cannabis as evidence if it was found during an illegal search and seizure. Many people use cannabis for medical reasons and in fact, there are currently many conditions that fall under the “serious medical condition” category.  Some conditions include:

  • Anorexia
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Glaucoma
  • Migraine
  • Muscle spasms
  • Nausea
  • Many others

A doctor may determine that it is medically advisable for a person with any of these conditions to use cannabis for their safety and health. The scope of illnesses and diseases is wide.  The Marijuana Medical Program (MMP) states that criteria include “any other chronic or persistent medical condition that limits the ability of the patient to conduct one or more major life activities as defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, or if not alleviated, may cause serious harm to the patient’s safety, physical, or mental health.”

If you were arrested or charged with cannabis possession, use or distribution, it is wise to consult with an attorney who works in criminal defense to fully understand your rights and applicable defense.

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