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Man arrested on marijuana charges operating alleged honey oil lab

Honey oil refers to a concentrated form of marijuana that is similar to the marijuana oil extract called hash oil. Technically, the possession of honey oil or hash oil is legal in California if one has a medical marijuana card. The problem arises when one tries to make the substance because the process, when using butane in the extraction process, is generally dangerous.

San Diego County deputies arrested a 24-year-old Vista man recently at his home on suspicion of running a honey oil lab, felony possession of marijuana, manufacturing a controlled substance and probation violation. Authorities allege that they found several pounds of marijuana in his residence, evidence of a honey oil lab and several thousand in cash. If found guilty, he could face several years of imprisonment.

Since about 2003, the Attorney General of California has declared that hash oil and honey oil is protected under Proposition 215 and the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. That is the medical marijuana law that permits possession and use of marijuana, including hash oil, if a legal prescription is written and a medical marijuana card is issued. Despite that declaration, the manufacture of hash oil and other marijuana extracts by dangerous methods remains a felony.

In this case, if the defendant has a medical marijuana card issued by the state of California, he may have a defense to the felony possession of marijuana charge but that would not extend to the manufacturing charge. Criminal defense counsel will, therefore, look carefully at the evidence the authorities have with respect to the manufacture charge. If the evidence is insufficient to prove manufacture beyond a reasonable doubt, a viable defense may exist. Additionally, counsel will closely examine the evidence of probable cause that the authorities may assert for the right to enter the suspect's residence and raise a constitutional defense if the search was not supported by probable cause and a search warrant.

Source: Oceanside-Camp Pendleton, CA Patch, "Man Suspected in Honey Oil Lab North of Oceanside", Mirna Alfonso, March 20, 2015

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