Ecstasy Possession Laws in California

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 Is Possession of Ecstasy a Crime in California?

Yes, under California law, ecstasy (often referred to as MDMA or “molly”) is considered a controlled substance. Possessing, selling, or transporting ecstasy without a valid prescription is illegal.

What Does It Do to You?

Ecstasy is a club drug that affects the body’s serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine levels. Users often experience feelings of euphoria, emotional closeness, and heightened sensory perception. However, it also comes with adverse side effects like dehydration, hyperthermia, and potential neurotoxicity.

How Does It Appear?

Ecstasy commonly appears in pill or capsule form. These capsules can come in various colors and may have logos or designs on them.

What Does It Smell or Taste Like?

Ecstasy typically has a slightly bitter taste. The smell can be somewhat chemically or medicinal, although it’s not very strong.

Ecstasy Capsules

These are small, often colorful pills that users swallow. They might contain only MDMA or be mixed with other substances, making the effects unpredictable.

Powdered MDMA

Aside from capsules, MDMA can also be found in a crystalline powder form. Users might snort, swallow, or even smoke this form, although the latter is less common.

Length of Time

The effects of ecstasy usually last between 3 to 6 hours. However, it can be detected in urine for up to 2 days after use, and hair tests might detect it for several months.

Federal Ecstasy Prosecution

While state laws address ecstasy possession, selling or transporting large amounts can attract federal attention. Federal penalties for ecstasy-related offenses are often more severe than state penalties.

Here are some examples of the penalties on the federal level for ecstasy offenses.

Possession

Possession of any amount of ecstasy for personal use is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison, a fine of at least $1,000, or both. However, if the offender has a prior conviction for a drug offense, the penalty increases to up to two years in prison, a fine of at least $2,500, or both. If the offender has two or more prior convictions for drug offenses, the penalty increases to up to three years in prison, a fine of at least $5,000, or both.

Distribution

Distribution of any amount of ecstasy or possession with intent to distribute is a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $1 million, or both. However, if the offense involves 50 grams or more of ecstasy or 500 grams or more of a mixture containing ecstasy, the penalty increases to at least 5 years and up to 40 years in prison, a fine of up to $5 million, or both.

If the offense involves 500 grams or more of ecstasy or 5 kilograms or more of a mixture containing ecstasy, the penalty increases to at least 10 years and up to life in prison, a fine of up to $10 million, or both. If the offense results in serious bodily injury or death or if the offender has a prior felony drug conviction, the penalties are doubled.

Importation

Importation of any amount of ecstasy or possession with intent to import is a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $1 million, or both. However, if the offense involves 50 grams or more of ecstasy or 500 grams or more of a mixture containing ecstasy, the penalty increases to at least 10 years and up to life in prison, a fine of up to $10 million, or both.

If the offense involves 500 grams or more of ecstasy or 5 kilograms or more of a mixture containing ecstasy, the penalty increases to at least 20 years and up to life in prison, a fine of up to $20 million, or both. If the offense results in serious bodily injury or death or if the offender has a prior felony drug conviction, the penalties are doubled.

What Constitutes Possession of a Controlled Substance?

Possession implies that an individual has control over the drug, either directly or through another person. This includes both actual physical control (like in your pocket) and constructive possession (stored somewhere you control).

What Qualifies as Possession of Ecstasy in California?

In California, to be charged with possession of ecstasy, the prosecution must prove you:

  • Had control over the drug;
  • Knew of its presence;
  • Knew of the substance’s nature as a controlled substance; and
  • That the amount was enough to be used as a drug (not just residue).

What Is the Penalty for Possession of Ecstasy?

Possession of ecstasy for personal use is a misdemeanor in California. Under the Health and Safety Code 11377, anyone who possesses ecstasy can be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for up to one year, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. However, if the offender has a prior conviction for a serious or violent felony, the penalty can be increased to imprisonment in the state prison.

Possession of ecstasy for sale is a more serious offense in California. Under the Health and Safety Code 11378, anyone who possesses ecstasy for sale and transport can be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for up to one year or in the state prison for 16 months, two years, or three years, and by a fine of up to $10,000.

Is There Anything I Can Do to Defend Against This Possession Charge?

Yes, several defenses may apply, including:

  • Unlawful searches and seizures by law enforcement;
  • Lack of knowledge about the ecstasy;
  • The ecstasy belonged to someone else and you had no control over it.

Unlawful Searches and Seizures

The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects citizens from unlawful searches and seizures.

In the context of drug possession, if law enforcement conducted a search without a valid warrant, without your consent, or without another lawful justification (such as probable cause or if the drug was in plain view), any evidence obtained during that search, including the ecstasy, might be excluded from trial.

Frequently, this is referred to as the “exclusionary rule.” For instance, if an officer pulled you over for a minor traffic violation and searched your car without reason to believe drugs were present, any drugs found during that search might not be admissible in court.

Lack of Knowledge

Being unaware that you were in possession of ecstasy or any illegal substance can be a valid defense.

For example, imagine you borrowed a friend’s jacket and were unaware that there was ecstasy in one of the pockets. If you’re arrested for possession, you might argue that you had no knowledge of the drug being in the jacket.

However, simply claiming a lack of knowledge isn’t enough. There needs to be some plausible explanation or evidence to back up this defense.

Lack of Possession or Control

Even if ecstasy is found in your vicinity (like in your home or car), the prosecution must prove that you had control over the substance and intended to possess it.

If you share a residence with multiple roommates and ecstasy is found in a common area, it might be challenging for the prosecution to prove that the drugs belonged to you and not one of your roommates.

Similarly, someone could leave ecstasy in your car without your knowledge, and you can establish that you had no control or intent to possess the substance. In that case, it can be a viable defense.

Should I Consult a Lawyer About My Charge of Drug Possession?

Absolutely. If you’re facing charges related to ecstasy or any other controlled substance, seeking legal guidance is essential. A drug crime attorney can offer insights specific to your case.

Get matched with an experienced California drug lawyer through LegalMatch to protect your rights and get the best possible outcome.

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