“Legal” Marijuana Can Land You in Jail, Say Local Lawyers

The complex law makes it easy to face serious legal trouble

Monday, December 1, 2014 | 6:39 pm

Although medical marijuana is legal in California, lack of knowledge on the law’s specifics may still lead to criminal liabilities that include fine, jail time and even life imprisonment, warns a local law team.

Lawyers Michael Berg and Levon Kyurkchyan, founders of Glendale-based LA Defense Team, represent clients who are charged of criminal liabilities related to the growing, cultivation, possession and transportation of marijuana, as well as other related cases.

Kyurkchyan said firms or organizations that grow, cultivate, possess and sell marijuana may face criminal charges if they fail to adhere to any of the requirements for “legal” marijuana.

“It’s really, really, really complicated and it’s very easy to run afoul of those requirements,” he said.

Despite his years of representing various individuals and businesses in courts, Kyurkchyan said he has to keep himself updated constantly on the developments on marijuana-related laws, including the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, a California law concerning the use of medical cannabis.

“The first and most common aspect of how we keep up with [medical marijuana laws] is by actually representing clients in court who are accused of similar charges,” Kyurkchyan said. “And what that does is it gets you to do research into a current development of the law.”

Kyurkchyan, a graduate of Whittier College School of Law, said he and LA Defense Team cofounder Berg also keep their eyes on the news for any new ordinances, senate bills and other proposed laws that are related to cannabis.

“By keeping abreast with the current state of laws, ordinances, propositions and initiatives that are passed which affect the field, we stay on top of what’s going on.”

Do Pasadenans who wish to sell or possess medical marijuana have to seek legal counsel in order not to break rules? Kyurkchyan said it is advisable and it may be “necessary.”

“It’s virtually impossible for anyone to be able to understand themselves the requirements and be able to open up a shop without the benefit of counsel,” Kyurkchyan said. “We (LA Defense Team) are the guys that come in and look at these cases when someone is charged with the crime of illegally possessing, selling, operating, cultivating and so on.”

Kyurkchyan has successfully represented a broad range of individuals and businesses accused of crimes such as theft, burglary, drug crimes, DUI, violent crimes and juvenile offenses.

Berg, meanwhile, has represented more than 300 clients in felony and misdemeanor cases in Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, Ventura  and San Diego counties. He is a graduate of Southwestern University School of Law.

The LA Defense Team is located at 144 N. Glendale Ave., Suite 200 Glendale. Visit http://www.ladefenseteam.com/ for more information.

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